5 Steps to Summer Self-care

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy …”

Isn’t it funny how everyone seems to slow down a bit in summer? People walk more slowly in the heat, and linger in the shade. Folks often take their vacations in the summer, escaping the hustle and bustle of the workplace to spend time in favorite places with family, friends and loved ones. Even children (typically moving non-stop) seem more than happy on summer afternoons to take a break for lemonade.

Unfortunately for massage therapists and bodyworkers, summertime can often mean slower business as well. Whether due to travel schedules, the need to arrange for childcare, or just a lack of cash, many clients seem less likely to book treatments during the summer months. It would certainly be an easy matter to get upset about a seasonal dip in appointments, but why not see this as a gift and an opportunity? A reduced client load can give your body something it desperately needs – time to rest, rejuvenate, and heal.

Here are some ideas for using summer time to focus on your practice’s most important asset: you.

1. Start a fitness habit

Forget New Year’s resolutions, a summer slowdown is the perfect time to start a new fitness habit. For some people that might mean making the most of the warm weather and taking up a water activity like swimming or kayaking. Those who prefer climate control might decide to take a fitness class or add strength training to their routine. Not sure where to start? Massage for Life, by Michael Rice, is a DVD aimed specifically at helping massage therapists gain the strength, flexibility, endurance, and concentration needed to keep your practice going strong for years to come.

2. Get plenty of rest

Who hasn’t lost sleep over their practice at some point? While the reasoning may be legitimate, it doesn’t stop the fact that adequate sleep and down-time are just as important to health and wellbeing as daily activity. Habits like avoiding television and the internet in the evening, waking up at the same time every day, and cutting back on caffeine (especially after noon) can help you get a good night’s sleep. If you’re someone who finds it easier to doze off to relaxing music, we’ve got you covered. Numinous, by George Skaroulis, is one of many great possibilities. The piano melodies are just traditional enough to calm you like a familiar lullaby, but not so expected that you’ll find yourself humming along instead of drifting off to sleep.

3. Eat fresh

Summer means the freshest food you’ll get all year, so take advantage! Check out your local farmer’s market or roadside stand for produce straight from the earth. If there’s a fruit or vegetable you’ve never liked, give it another go. The difference between a supermarket tomato and your neighbor’s heirloom Black Russians (yes, that’s really the name of a tasty tomato!) is beyond explanation, and you might discover you’re fond of them after all. Lots of local growers offer recipes or preparation ideas, too! So if you have no experience with kale or mulberries or purple potatoes, don’t let that stop you from including these healthful fruits or veggies in your summertime meals.

4. Switch up your techniques

If you’re giving similar massages all the time, it’s very easy to suffer from ordinary wear-and-tear. Why not try out a new technique this summer, especially one designed to help massage therapists avoid the pains that accompany overuse? Forearm Dance, by Val Guin, is a perennial favorite that will show you safe ways of using your forearms and elbows to provide the deep massage your clients crave, without resorting to fingers and thumbs. Hands-Free Thai, by Chuck Duff, is another great option for learning to work well in ways that don’t rely on brute strength.

5. Spread the love, get a massage

If your business is a bit slow, and so is your colleague’s, this is the perfect opportunity to get more bodywork done! Not only will you learn new techniques and spread goodwill in the massage community, your body will thank you a hundred times over by being more relaxed, energized, and pain-free.

What’s the advantage of taking the summer to focus on self-care? When the weather cools and the pace of life picks up, you’ll be ready to meet it head-on with a fresh mind and a strong body. What better way to start the busy season right?