Early in the coronavirus crisis, many were hopeful that Oregon’s massage businesses would be able to reopen by April 15th, the original end date in Kate Brown’s first executive order. Then, on April 14th, the governor outlined three indicators for when the economy can be reopened: 1) a “flattened curve,” meaning fewer recorded cases of COVID-19; 2) adequate protective gear for essential frontline workers, and 3) increased testing capabilities, to track any resurgence of the virus. When can we estimate these three items will be in place? Experts predict that flattening the curve will extend through at least mid-May, and Governor Brown mentioned that the “months ahead” will include a re-opening that “is going to move slower than any of us would want, but it’s the only way to protect the health and lives of Oregonians.”
Health is at the heart of every massage business. Manual therapists are driven by a deep desire to help others improve their health. So, while LMTs don’t want to put others at risk, many are also wondering how they can preserve their livelihoods in this strange, unpredictable time. Today we’re listing actions LMTs can take to put themselves in the best position possible. We’re supporting our beloved massage community by listing financial and personal wellness actions that therapists can take now to situate themselves well for the eventual reopening of the economy. Rather than perpetuate fear, we aim to empower you through information.
Financial Actions for LMTs during the Coronavirus Crisis
Triage your massage business.
First, contact your creditors, including…
- Credit cards
- Medical bills
- Student loans
- Auto loans
…and any other loans you may have. Request deferred payments, and if that isn’t available, inquire after lowered interest rates. Federally funded student loans can be put into administrative forbearance, allowing you to temporarily stop making loan payments. Your loan servicers can provide more information.
Next, call your bank and ask about the following financial safety nets:
- Cash reserves which are lines of credit that will safeguard you against overdrafts.
- Single payment loans, which can help you endure these tricky times.
Some banks are also offering waived banking fees, deferred loan payments, and zero interest loans. It does not hurt to call your bank and see how they can help you.
You may also use this time to prepare your business to reopen. Some spas and wellness centers are pre-booking appointments for when they reopen. Others are focusing on boosting their online presence. From setting up online booking to selling massage products online, there are many online tasks you can do now to make your business more successful once social distancing restrictions are lifted.
For more coronavirus-specific information on government resources, unemployment benefits, and small business loans, we recommend our previous blog on the CARES act. We also suggest this AMTA post on state-by-state Coronavirus news updates, specific to the massage industry.
Self-Care Practices for Massage Therapists during the Coronavirus Crisis
This crisis has been difficult for everyone, and each of us faces unique challenges. Recognize that mental health issues are likely to resurface during these stressful times. From grieving the loss of long-anticipated events to missing human contact, each person in our locked-down economy is struggling. More than ever, it is critical to take care of yourself so that you can stay open and compassionate to those around you.
Prioritize daily exercise, home-cooked, nutritious meals, and rest. This is the perfect time to allow any lingering physical issues, such as repetitive use injuries, to heal. You may also consider picking up a self-care practice that you have always wanted to try, such as yoga or meditation. Many fitness centers are offering free online classes during this time; here are a few resources to check out:
YMCA 360 has many types of prerecorded free fitness classes, from bootcamp to Tai Chi to boxing and yoga.
CorePower Yoga maintains a selection of complimentary videos, including a few meditation videos.
Insight Timer is a phone app that offers a versatile meditation timing tool as well as dozens of complimentary guided meditations.
Self-care will help you stay steady, to best protect your massage career.
“Pandemic Responses 101” is not a course at our massage school in Portland. When you first decided to become a massage therapist, you couldn’t have dreamed of this challenge. Be patient with yourself and others during this time. Have faith that with dedication and community support, your massage work can survive. Industries across the globe are besieged, and the massage business is no exception. If we can do anything to help, please reach out to our phenomenal staff, who are working safely from home at this time.