A middle-aged bearded man meditates with eyes closed.

We can’t go far with the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandates still in effect in most areas — so this is a good opportunity for you to stay engaged with yourself and your massage practice.

Don’t just passively wait for things to get better. By all means, earn income if you can do so safely while abiding by legal guidelines — but even then, you’ll probably have free time that you can make good use of.

Here are some tips on things you can engage in or improve upon personally and professionally.

Let’s start with personal enhancements.

Get Your Rest On

Repetitive micro-trauma type injuries (RMT’s), such as tendinitis and sprain/strains, commonly afflict health care providers, especially manual therapists, leaving us sore or in pain.

In some cases, such injuries necessitate our taking prolonged time off from practicing to heal — or worse, having to quit altogether.

Fatigue is another challenge all health care practitioners face that can lead to burnout.

Discussing ways to avoid injury and burnout while actively practicing is an entire topic in itself; but for now, let’s focus on a few things you can do to fortify yourself during this downtime.

If you’ve been feeling sore or somewhat fatigued from practicing, this is a good time to relax more, recover and let your body and total being rejuvenate.

This happens naturally just from taking a break from seeing clients. 

There are other activities you can do that further improve your revitalization. You may want to increase activities you already do, such as the time you spend going for long walks, as well as implementing new ones like doing yoga or other rebalancing activities.

Eat, Sleep, Gaze

This is also a good time to nurture yourself by enjoying home-cooked meals and slower-paced eating routines.

Sleep has been labeled “the great sports enhancement drug” because it allows the body and nervous system time to rejuvenate. Hopefully, you can allow adequate time for that now.

People often complain that they have little time to do what’s arguably the top non-activity that helps your mind and emotional field relax and reboot: meditation. Having more time on your hands away from practicing now may give you the opportunity to experience meditating if you aren’t already doing it.

The Dali Lama loves saying, “If you’re feeling stressed and always hurried, you ought to meditate for half-hour a day. If you’re too busy to meditate for a half-hour, you need to meditate for an hour!”

You get the message. 

Professional Focus

This is also a perfect time to contemplate and envision changes and improvements you want to make in your professional life and practice.

Here are some ways to improve your practice right now. Let’s break them down into categories, the first being your office, or treatment room, space.

Ask yourself what changes you have been wanting to make but have been putting off or haven’t found the time to do. You can make a list and commit to fulfilling it when you return to practice, or even better if you still have access to your treatment room, you can accomplish it now. 

Take inventory of areas that could use a good cleaning. Are there things that could be better organized or rearranged, such as pictures, posters, charts, and certificates? Maybe it’s time to order some new ones that you’ve been putting off. 

Update and organize your client file system and contact information.

During this time of social isolation, why not reach out to your clients and stay in touch; they will welcome hearing from you.

Just receiving a brief message saying you’re thinking of them and hoping they’re staying well will keep you in mind and give them a welcomed lift.

Learn Online

This is also a perfect time for a massage therapist to study online classes at your own convenience, leisure, and pace.

Choose ones that sharpen your education, knowledge and skillset. You can learn some new topics that may have piqued your interest but you never quite had the time as you do now.

Use this time wisely.

You’ll become better educated, more professional, and have greater confidence. Many educators, including myself, are offering big discounts during this period to help therapists out.

Look to the Future

It may seem counterintuitive to buy things during a financial downturn, but you have to think “future investments,” or in practice management lingo, “what’s your long-term return on investment (ROI)?”

When you return to practice, clients are sure to recognize your enhanced knowledge and skills, which translates not only into their receiving better care from you, but also viewing you being more professional, which naturally increases their compliance, visits and desire to refer others to you.

These things you do now help set the stage for coming back into practice stronger than ever.

Think of Your Clients

With the extreme psycho-social deprivation everyone is currently experiencing, people are recognizing like never before just how important their connection with you is as a massage therapist.

When this current health care crisis clears, people will be eager and appreciative to feel more connected and better integrated through your nurturing touch and the other benefits your work facilitates. 

Wise practitioners will take advantage of this time to empower themselves to come back into practice better than ever. Not only will this help you, but it will also benefit your clients. You both deserve the best.

Michael Koplen, DC, LMT, is a longtime massage therapist and doctor of chiropractic. He maintains a clinical practice and runs the Masters In Massage Institute, which provides client management-oriented protocols and communications to advance massage therapists’ professional skills and practice success. He also wrote “Massage Therapy and Coronavirus: 4 Reasons Why Masks and Clean Surfaces Aren’t Enough.”