Self-Care Day 3

Go to Bed Early

I can’t even tell you how many times I tell myself I’m going to go to bed early tonight… right after I get this “one more thing done” or my husband has to show me one more video on YouTube, or I remember that I needed to switch out the laundry, or, or…

Pick a night this week, put it on your schedule, and try going to bed half an hour to an hour early. And actually go to sleep when you get there. Try not to stare at your phone. See how you feel the next day after getting that extra hour of sleep! I’ll let you know if I manage to do it. 🙃

Pick a night this week, put it on your schedule, and try going to bed half an hour to an hour early. And actually go to sleep when you get there. Try not to stare at your phone. See how you feel the next day after getting that extra hour of sleep! I’ll let you know if I manage to do it. 🙃

Self-Care Day 2

Make a Goals List

“Resolutions” make me cringe-y. Most don’t last a month for me. So, this year, I’m thinking about some goals. Yes, fitness is among them, but other stuff, too. Like, you know, self-care. Business goals. Have more fun. Make more art.

If you kick @$$ at resolutions, you go, you rockstar! If they freak you out, maybe just take this beginning of a new year to set a few goals for yourself. Make small ones, like setting your alarm a little earlier, or big ones, like a trip (pandemic willing). Give yourself something to look forward to, rather than something you HAVE to do.

30 Days of Self-Care

A Self-Care Reset for the New Year

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you all, but I’m a bit of a mess from the last couple of years, and I was inspired to create a way for myself and any of you who want to do a self-care reset to get started.

There are a lot of self-care checklists out there, but a lot of them are geared towards just moms or include more “pampering” stuff than actual self-care. So, I scoured the interwebs and found the parts I liked the most, threw in a few of my own, and ideas from friends.

Now, I’m pleased to present “30 Days of Self-Care” – a self-care reset from Birch Tree Wellness. I will share one a day through January. They will be on Facebook, Instagram, and my website. At the end of the month, I’ll also create a checklist of all 30 so you can use it as a reference throughout the year.

An important tip: Don’t stress yourself out trying to self-care yourself. You don’t have to do them on the exact day I post them. It’s okay to skip a day. It’s okay to skip the ones you don’t like. Just do what you can and what speaks to you. That’s part of the process.

Notably, you won’t see “get a massage” on this list. That’s kind of a given, but also I tried to keep this list mostly free or minimal expense. I know you’ll get a massage if that’s what you need.

Let the self-care begin!

Self-Care Day 1

Take a Nap

While napping may not be for everyone, I think many of us agree that the thing that we fought against as children is now something magical.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you keep naps to 10-20 minutes in length. Much longer and you’ll just feel groggy afterward and potentially disrupt your evening sleep. A short nap can be a great way to reset when you’re feeling unproductive, tired, and/or cranky.

While a bed is ideal, I have been known to nap in my car during lunch breaks in the past. If I have time at the office, I have occasionally napped on my massage table or in my comfy chair. I also have a giant beanbag chair that is awesome for naps. Maybe you have a comfy couch or a nice recliner.

Pick a day, set an alarm (I recommend setting it out of reach to prevent hitting ‘snooze’), and see how a short nap makes you feel!

Self-Care Day 14

Start a Journal

30 days of self care
start a journal

I think that journaling can seem a little intimidating because you feel like you need to commit to journaling every single day, or you need to write something profound, or you need to have a special journal and a special pen *coughcough~me~coughcough* But all you really need is a cheap notebook, some looseleaf paper, or a file on your computer to make it happen.

And you don’t really need to write anything deep and prophetic. You can write “today sucked” and leave it at that. Or maybe you can elaborate about why today sucked. I did some searching on the interwebs and found that there are even journaling prompts you can use for mental health, creativity, inspiration, whatever you like.

You don’t need to write every day. I love to journal and don’t do it as much as I’d like, but one of my favorite things to do is to sit down and freehand write about a problem or idea that I’m trying to work out. I might just say blah, blah, blah… ramble on about bad ideas, or list out options. I don’t worry about paragraphs or punctuations, just sort of brain dump onto the paper. It’s surprisingly helpful.

Whatever method you choose to try, it may be a great way for you to sort out that chatter in your head!

Face Masks & Massage Update

let's talk about face mask & massage

Okay. So.

I’ve been trying for like a month to put together a full newsletter for you, but then stuff keeps changing and mask mandates are confusing, the State’s rules are confusing, and life is generally confusing. So, I spent the last couple of days doing some research and here is where we’re at:

Town of Orono:

The Town of Orono’s emergency mask mandate is still *technically* in effect. They are meeting on June 3 to discuss repealing it

State of Maine:

The State of Maine has “retired” the page with the reopening checklist for massage facilities. It now refers you to a page on general guidance and say they will be following CDC recommendations.

US CDC:

The CDC has absolutely no massage industry-specific guidelines that I can find, though many pages hadn’t been updated in months. In an American Hospital Associate article, I read that the CDC still requires masks in healthcare settings.

A recently updated page, Key Things To Know, states that they are still working to understand how well the vaccine prevents you from spreading the virus, though early data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19. They are still learning, including how effective the vaccines are against variants.

Massage Industry Experts:

I got probably the most useful, but still sort of nebulous information from Ruth Werner, a massage pathology expert in a blog post she wrote, What the CDC’s New Mask Recommendations Mean for Massage Therapists. It aligns with what I have been thinking the last couple of weeks.

confused about massage and face masks?

What Does It All Mean?

For right now, I’m going to go with please keep wearing masks for your massage appointment. At the moment, you technically still need to wear masks in the building, based on Orono’s rules. Once that is repealed, it is okay for vaccinated clients to come into the office without a mask. You will still need to wear one at least when laying face up on the table.

Plan to wear a mask for at least part of your massage appointment through June, even if you are vaccinated. I will reassess at the end of the month. This could change if we have a surge or a dramatic drop in COVID cases.

Watch for updates of the various COVID-related policies on the website, bear with me as I sort all that out.

Stay tuned for a more exciting newsletter with information about new add-ons and other information!

Stay Well,
Tricia

Massage After COVID-19

This is a serious topic, friends. If you want to schedule a massage after you have had COVID-19, you absolutely HAVE to let your massage therapist know that you have had the virus. It could literally mean life or death.

Ideally, you need to let them know well before your appointment date. You need time to connect to discuss how serious your case was. It may also be necessary for you to reach out to your healthcare team for feedback. The best plan is to talk to them before you make an appointment.

Why Worry About Massage After COVID-19?

The biggest concern is the risk of blood clots associated with COVID-19. While blood clots have primarily been seen in patients hospitalized with severe cases, there are still a lot of unknowns. Autopsies of patients who have died from COVID often show severe clotting, which contributed to multiple organ failure and death. You can read an interview about COVID-19 and clotting issues written by a massage pathology eductator here.

Massage Gets the Blood Moving

One of the benefits of massage is that it improves the flow of blood through your muscles and organs. A massage stroke presses down on your muscles, stretching and warming them. Those muscles have blood vessels supplying them, and that same motion pushes the blood in the direction of the stroke.

Maybe you noticed that these strokes are often deliberately pushing blood towards your heart. Once there, it travels to the lungs for fresh oxygen, and then back through your organs and muscles again. Because of this, it is possible to dislodge a clot and send it traveling through you body to create big problems.

What Does My Massage Therapist Need to Know?

Your massage therapist will want to discuss the severity of your COVID symptoms, how long you were ill, and whether or not you were hospitalized. Even if we’re not talking about massage after COVID-19, it’s important to know if you’ve had a history of clotting issues. People with a serious history of clots will need to discuss the risks of circulatory massage with their doctor.

You may have noticed they keep asking you about your ability to exercise and increase your heart rate/respiratory rate. They’ll want to know if you’ve had any new or unusual muscle aches or pain. It’s also important to know if you have seen any unexplained marks, rashes, bumps, or other lesions on your skin. These are all screening questions to help rule out blood clots.

So please, don’t be embarrassed, don’t brush it off. Let your massage therapist know and answer their questions honestly. They are trying to keep you safe!

COVID Exposure: How Close Is Too Close?

COVID exposure: How close is too close when it comes to massage risk?

COVID-19 is creeping in around the edges, friends, I’ve had to discuss with a few clients what is “too close” when it comes to COVID exposure.

How few people between you and a positive COVID test is too few? Our faces are pretty close to each other when I work on your neck and shoulders, even with a face mask and shield. 

What if your spouse has a coworker test positive? Is spending time with a person outside who was exposed via their child’s school too close? These situations have presented themselves recently, and the clients and I agreed to err on the side of caution. 

COVID exposure: how close is too close when it comes to massage risk?

At this time, if someone who lives with you is exposed at work or elsewhere, or if you are notified of a risk of exposure, please cancel your appointment. Within a few days, you’ll know if the people between you and the positive individual have tested negative, or shown signs of illness, or you can get yourself tested (find a testing site near you). Then, we can discuss getting you rescheduled. 

If you aren’t sure about what you should do, please feel free to contact me to discuss. As I’m often in with clients during the day, the best way to reach me is via email or text. I can quickly respond to you between appointments and disinfecting.

As always, if you’re not feeling well, definitely reschedule. You can review symptoms and my COVID-19 policies here. Unsure if getting a massage is safe for you? Read more about my High-Risk Client Policy here.

Many of you worry about my losing income/business, and you are awesome. However, I would rather reschedule one appointment than risk making a dozen clients sick and closing for weeks. Thank you for continuing to be understanding and helping me keep massaging during this pandemic.

Here We Go Again: Massage in a Time of COVID-19

HAPPY NOVEMBER!?

November newsletter

This is a little bit more discouraging of a November newsletter than I was hoping to write, as the recent surge of COVID-19 cases definitely has me worried and on guard. I’ve talked to a few of you about what the future might hold, and I think that I will be able to stay open, but I will be changing a few things and reinstating some others. I’m outlining the plan below and as always, I appreciate your continued patience and support.

Before Your Appointment

  • I will send out one or two pre-appointment check-in emails or texts within the week before your appointment. Mainly, reminding people of protocols, doing a wellness check, and making sure I have the best contact information for you.
  • You need to fill out the online intake form before each appointment. It often goes into your spam/promotions folder. If I don’t see that you’ve filled it out, I will try to remind you. If you haven’t filled it out (particularly if it’s been a while), you may need to take the time to fill it out before your session can start.

The Day of Your Appointment

  • Please let me know the best way to contact you on the day of your appointment. If I need to cancel for any reason, I will try to contact you by 9 am and it’s important I can reach you.
  • If possible, try to avoid extra errands or stops on the way to your appointment.
  • If you arrive more than 10 minutes early for your appointment, please wait in your car (unless you took a bus or something, then please come in and stay warm).
  • DO NOT bring anyone extra to your appointment, they won’t be able to wait in the office.
  • Properly worn face masks are required in the whole building, as well as in my office.
  • Please use the hand sanitizer just inside my office door when you arrive.
  • I may require a massage & COVID-19 risk waiver prior to your appointment.
  • You can still take your mask off while you’re face down since I put a pillowcase in the face cradle. If you feel safer leaving it on, feel free. The blue box for your mask will now be next to the table so you can wear it until you’re ready to put your face in the cradle.
  • Please sanitize your hands before you leave the massage room at the end of your session.

A Slight Reduction in Hours

november massage COVID-19
sunday appointments

For a number of reasons, I’m going to indefinitely suspend my Sunday afternoon appointments. I know this is difficult for some, but I feel that it’s safer for the most part. This will make my hours Monday & Tuesday 11-7 and Thursday & Friday 10-6.

  • My control of the HVAC system on Sunday is limited, which makes airflow in the room limited
  • It gives the office an extra day to “air out”
  • It’ll decrease my own stress levels and exposure risks

If you have a Sunday appointment scheduled through the end of the year, you still have that appointment, but I will not be adding new ones.

Recommendations

  • If you’re managing chronic pain, anxiety, or depression (or all of the above) with massage, I recommend that you contact your doctor about a note or prescription for massage. This may help you be able to continue to come in if we have to roll back the state’s reopening stages.
  • It’s really important to not wear cologne, scented lotions, or perfume to your appointments. Every time my allergies flare up, I panic “Is this it?? Should I close and go get tested??” And pretty much every scented product affects either my respiratory system or my skin. I don’t want to have to close or panic, or start rescheduling people wearing strong scents.

In Closing

I feel pretty good at least that I have more protections in place than I did this spring. I have a decent supply of good disinfectant, plus backups. I’ve got a face shield, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. I have plenty of time between appointments to manage the linens, getting everything cleaned and disinfected, and allowing the disinfectant to air dry for the best effect.

november massage COVID-19
Happy 4th Birthday, Birch Tree Wellness!

As I keep saying… I am doing my best to keep us all safe, but nothing is guaranteed. Review my High-Risk Client Policies before you schedule, be honest with me about your risks, and do what you can to keep yourself and each other safe and healthy. I’m starting my fifth year of business in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s with your help that we’ll be able to cross the five-year milestone in (mostly) one piece. Thank you for being awesome clients!

Massage In A Time of COVID: Week 7

Holy $#*! It’s August

massage COVID week 7

Welcome to massage in a time of COVID week 7. As it works out for most of these newsletters, I started this one has a one month update. Then, life got in the way and it’s now something more like a month and a half-ish update. Things are still going okay, everyone coming in has been fantastic about wearing masks and being patient and understanding. I range anywhere from “This is good, we got this!” to “OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING?!” but as Dory says “Just keep swimming!”

I’ve settled into the cleaning and disinfection routine pretty well. It takes about 20 minutes to get everything wiped down. Then, it needs to air dry for 10 minutes or so before I put linens back on the table in preparation for the next appointment. I found I have to set an alarm reminder or I might forget to put the sheets on!

A few things that have been tweaked as time progresses:

massage COVID week 7

COVID exposure reminder
  • I now have a card with a date range to give you that reminds you to contact me if you learn about exposure to COVID-19 or test positive.
  • MassageBook should automatically send you a request to update your intake form the day before your appointment. I’m double-checking that you’ve updated that instead of emailing or texting a check-in.
  • Please wait 14 days to schedule if you have traveled out of the state.
  • Please wait 14 days to schedule if you have had visitors from out of state that you haven’t been able to socially distance from.
  • There’s a written policy for COVID-19 exposure on my website.

University of Maine Students Returning to Orono:

  • If you are a regular client, but just returning to Orono for classes, please wait 2-3 weeks before scheduling a massage.
  • Regular clients employed at the university: I’ve talked to many of you about exposure risks, testing, etc. I trust you to be aware of your risks, and I believe most of you are getting tested regularly. Just let me know how things are going.

Meanwhile, I’ve opened up the schedule through October. Just keep in mind that there’s always a chance we may have to cancel your appointment if cases in Orono increase too much or (God I hope not) I get exposed.

Wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay negative, my friends.