by Paul Mattson, LMT – Personal Development Instructor

These are, indeed, uncertain times for everybody, and as Massage Therapists we are no exception. We are used to providing care for others, and, if you’re like me, you’re sometimes not so good at remembering to care for yourself. The following are some tips that I’ve gathered from various sources: those I’ve put into practice myself, some from other professionals, and some from resources I maintain and research I’ve done. I hope you find this information valuable.

This should be your priority right now (and going forward). Think of the flight attendants who, during their safety demonstrations before take off, say “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

Now, while we’re not using our bodies to do massage, is a good time to heal and to practice self-care. Many of us have some aches and pains, or our bodies are making some noises that they didn’t before we started doing massage. I know I do! What better time is there to practice self-care?

Exercise. Heal and strengthen your body. Implement stretches and bodyweight exercises, and if you’re equipped while you’re at home, throw in some weightlifting. Get out for a walk (keeping social distancing protocols in mind, of course). I do a combination of these, and have a couple of exercise apps that I use: My Fitness Pal, and Fitness Buddy. There are a host of others available – stick to the free versions! When this is finally over, we’ll be better prepared to “hit the ground running.”

Meditate. Center. Pray. Whatever your spiritual or mental health self-care practices are, implement them regularly, or seek out new ones that fit you. Meditate or pray if you’re led to do either of those, and if you’re currently doing that, consider increasing your time in these practices.

Listen to Inspirational Music. Whatever it is that uplifts you! It doesn’t have to be “spa” sounds or easy-going “flowy” music that many of us use in our treatment rooms. Use whatever type of music inspires you. Find your groove and dance like nobody’s watching!

My personal go-to is journaling. It helps me process my thoughts and feelings, and I find it very cathartic. Find what works for you.

Get Your Continuing Education Units. As Massage Therapists – at least in the State of Michigan – we are required to earn 18 units of Continuing Education (CE) every 3 years to maintain licensure. What better time to pursue this than now? If you are a member of ABMP, AMTA, or another professional massage and bodywork association, they offer many free continuing education courses online as part of your membership!

Even though you’re not seeing them in your treatment room, there are still things you can do to care for your clients until you can see them again.

Maintain Contact. Many of your clients think of you as “my massage therapist.” Make a list of those who you see regularly, and prioritize them by frequency: put those you see weekly (or more often if you have them) at the top, those you see every two weeks (or approximately that) next, then those you see monthly, etc. on until you’re listing those clients you see occasionally.

Contact Your “Frequent Flyers” First. These are the clients most likely to return when you re-open, and those with whom you likely have the closest relationships. Make phone calls, send emails or text messages as appropriate, and just check in to see how they’re faring during this time. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Share Self-Care and Wellness Tips. You can do this with your clients when you reach out to them individually, or use mass-marketing emails (if you have that capability) to publish tips. It’s great if they follow through with these, but merely the act of doing so will help them to feel that you’re continuing to care for them.

There will be more tips in the coming days, so be sure to look here for more information to help you survive and thrive this crisis and afterward.

Be safe and be well,
Paul Mattson, LMT