Posts Tagged ‘Self Care’

It’s that time of year again when everyone, it seems, is traveling. I’ve already had two trips this spring, I’m leaving this week for a leadership training, and it now looks like I’ll be traveling a few days each month through the end of the year. Thus I started thinking about how I can save some money (since I’m also losing income while traveling) and decided to put together my list of how to save a few dollars on the essentials.

So here are my tips for cheap(er) vacationing!

  • Sign up for (or update) AirBnB*! Then spend some time finding the perfect place to stay. AirBnB offers all different price points, amenities, and locations that can save you a lot in accommodations.
  • Pack a cooler! A cooler works really well on road trips. Packing your own sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks can save quite a bit and keep your tummy happier. Even if you only eat out of the cooler once a day, it adds up. If you’re not road tripping (or even if you are), consider hitting the prepared foods section of the local grocery for a salad or hot meal.
  • Fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. The experts that study the airline industry say these two days are best for cost savings!
  • Visit our state and national parks. There are usually low-cost entrance fees and many times have lots of activities available for no-cost beyond the entrance fee. These areas are also usually less crowded than other public use areas.
  • Seek out free walking tours, free days at museums and parks, or discounted matinee shows. Also, check out the local theater and orchestra schedule for free and discounted dress rehearsals.

So that’s my short list of how I save a few dollars when I have to be away from home whether it be a fun, summer vacation or a business trip.

Happy traveling!

***

*I list only AirBnB here because I’m an AirBnB host as well as an avid user of AirBnB.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Specialist!
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With graduations pressing in on us from every direction, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts and proper etiquette and things of that nature. Things have changed a lot since I graduated from high school and college and not wanting to just throw money and gift cards I got to thinking about the best gifts I’ve ever received. I find I don’t remember many gifts I’ve received…

Best Gift Ever!

Thirty years ago (gulp!) I received a toiletry kit from a family friend. It was a gift for my high school graduation. At the time I was less than thrilled with it. I wondered what possessed someone to give a young person a gift like that and admittedly I didn’t use it for a long time. In fact, I was probably in my last year of college before I pressed it into use.

Since then I’ve practically worn it out between all the personal travel and professional trips I’ve taken between two careers. In fact, I’ll be replacing the soap box before my next trip as it finally gave up the ghost. I suppose thirty years will do that to plastic.

When it broke, it made me a bit sad and I started to wonder if I could count up how many places it’s been with me. Alas, my memory is not that good, but it did make me remember how I felt all those years ago receiving it as a gift. And I began to examine why I now treasure it as one of the very best gifts I’ve ever received. My short-sighted, young mind never expected to live the life I’ve lived. Way back then I never thought I’d get to go to all the beautiful places I’ve visited. Thank goodness that family friend saw some sort of potential in me and had the foresight to play a small part in getting me ready to fulfill it.

She planted a seed of sorts. Made it a possibility that travel was in my future. She gave me something to work towards when I was a poor college graduate who could barely cover the bills. And now after all these years and all the traveling we’ve done together I don’t quite know how I would have gotten by without it.

I have a couple of nieces graduating this year. I hope the gifts they receive will inspire them as much as my little travel toiletry kit has for me.

So what do you count as the best gift ever received?

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Specialist!

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Recently I was on Facebook and saw an ad for a local chiropractor’s office offering three hours of massage for less than $100. I was instantly furious. Several thoughts bounced around the inside of my head while I was trying to determine what made me so mad. Was I upset about possibly losing business? Yes, but not so much for this kind of emotional reaction. Was it the chiropractor’s office? Maybe, but I’d never even heard of the place before. Was it the massage therapist? Maybe, but I didn’t even know who worked there. Was it the ad itself? Just a black and white text affair, blunt, but no. It took a bit before it finally coalesced to the point that I could put it into words.

Who in their right mind is willing to do three hours of massage for less than $100?

As an independent business owner and massage therapist the only scenario that makes sense is that the business is doing it to bring in more business. Okay, that’s one way to do it, but is the massage therapist getting paid a previously agreed upon minimum hourly rate? Or are they having to eat the cut rate? It’s one thing for me to decide to cut my rates and do a special, it’s another thing for an employer to decide that for me.

Let me break some of the numbers down and give you an idea of why I found myself so angry at this Facebook ad.

I’m an independent massage therapist whose rates are currently $70/hour. When I do an hour of massage I receive from my client $70. With that $70 I keep the doors open, the heat, air, lights, and water on, supplies stocked and pay any other business related expenses, pay taxes, pay myself so I can keep food on the table (and in the dog’s bowls) and a safe place for my family to live.

As an employed massage therapist when the employer runs a “special” the massage therapist typically takes at least a share of the hit. So that special for 3-hours for $100 works out to 1-hour for $33.33. The employer then takes their share which is negotiable at the time of employment and is typically 40-60% depending on what the employer supplies. So out of $33.33 the employer will take $13.33, if the massage therapist is lucky, leaving them $19.99 for an hour of massage. If they’re not so lucky those numbers flip, the house takes $19.99 leaving the massage therapist $13.33.

Now, I am fully in support of the house taking their cut, they have to in order to keep the doors open. But can you imagine going to school, graduating, being required to take and pass a national-level exam, purchasing and maintaining liability insurance, going through the process of becoming licensed by the state, maintaining continuing education hours in order to become a skilled professional all to be paid $13.33 for an hours worth of work?

I certainly cannot and before you move away from that list I just wrote about all the things you have to do to become a legally practicing professional massage therapist in the state of Alabama, consider that every single thing on that list takes money. Most of those steps take a lot of money.

So it’s just not feasible from a business standpoint for a massage therapist to agree to work for this kind of pay. They can’t keep up their certification and licensing much less put food on the table. Add to that, people flock to these kinds of deals giving that therapist a lot of work to do. So they’re wearing their bodies down without receiving sufficient resources to maintain their self-care or livelihood. I think we can all agree this is not good practice nor is it sustainable.

So who would agree to work for this pittance?

Unfortunately, the massage therapists who agree to work under these circumstances are often desperate for money and employment, very young, just graduated from massage school, have student loans coming due, and/or a combination of these. So deal shoppers who bounce from place to place looking for the cheapest deals are essentially taking advantage of someone who is already down on their luck or trying to get started. They also may not be receiving the best massages either because let’s face it, how good a job do you do when you’re stressed out and worried about how you’re going to pay the electric bill.

What Can We Do?

As a consumer of massage, you can either refuse to deal shop or if you do, tip the therapist directly at a very high percentage. If you can’t afford to make up the difference in the tip then book at least two more appointments at full price for every one appointment you get at a discounted rate, write a review for the therapist, and send your friends to that massage therapist. In other words, do all you can to support that person.

As a massage therapist, you can negotiate these things with your employer. It’s best if it’s in the employment contract or agreement, but you can still negotiate with them even after you’ve signed an agreement. Insist on a minimum rate of pay for your services. Insist on limits, both to the number of “deals” they offer per year and how many massages they sell at the discounted rate or give away for free. Don’t expect that to be an easy conversation, but nothing worth having comes easy or cheap. Also consider the possibility that self-employment may be a better option.

In a perfect world we would all get paid what we are worth. Unfortunately, our system doesn’t work that way and we get paid what we settle for or what the market will bear. As a massage therapist I choose not to settle for less and know that sometimes I’ll be slow because there are lots of deals floating around. As a consumer of massage I refuse to shop the deals because it artificially dilutes the value of massage therapy and makes it harder for all of us, consumers and massage therapists, to afford.

So if it sounds too good to be true, you know it probably is, at least in the long run. Anyway, here are a couple of related articles that you may now be interested in reading: How to support your favorite businesses for free and How to find a great massage therapist

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!

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I just wanted to take a moment to address the sexual misconduct involving one of the giant massage therapy chains that has been in the news recently.  I am horrified and disgusted that someone in my profession has violated the sanctity of our collective healing space.

People come to massage to find a safe place in which to let their mind and body relax and begin the healing process. Obviously, it’s not to be assaulted. While it is impossible for an employer to control individual employees’ actions, it is deplorable that virtually nothing has been done to address the now hundreds of complaints that have been filed against these employees. The company owes their clientele better and I will be surprised if there’s not repercussions for not removing predators from their employ in a timely manner. I am saddened that so many people are now having to deal with the trauma of being assaulted when they rightly believed they were safe.

All that being said, I just wanted to make sure that you, as a consumer of massage, know exactly what to expect when you schedule a massage. And I want to give you some straight talk about what to do if ANYONE or ANYTHING ever makes you feel uncomfortable while receiving massage with any bodyworker, anywhere.

As a massage therapist and bodyworker, my main goal is to help you feel better. I strive to create a safe, comfortable space for you. You will find this is a common thread among people who practice a healing art. We know receiving massage can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Most of the time you will be unclothed to some degree, possibly lying face down, and someone you may not know yet will be touching you. I never want you to feel unsafe or uncomfortable so read on and know that you are always in charge when you are receiving a massage.

A Bodywork Client’s Bill of Rights

  1. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t like my music, if you feel cold, if the sheet feels scratchy or if I’m actually hurting you.
  2. If you feel unsafe for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I need to figure out what’s wrong so you can feel safe again.
  3. If you feel like you want to stop the session and leave for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I don’t want to subject you to an experience you don’t want.
  4. If you feel like you need to cry, let it out. You might startle me, but I’m not going to run away.
  5. Your massage is your time. It may be the only hour you get this week, month, or year to be perfectly yourself and let your mind and body enter into a healing state so please tell me if there’s something I need to do to help you have the best massage experience possible.

What To Do If You’re Assaulted During a Massage

  1. If you’re able, stop the session and leave the establishment immediately.
  2. Once you are safe, go directly to the police department or the emergency department (depending on the severity of the assault).
  3. Expect to make a police report on the incident.
  4. After making a police report ask the police if it is okay for you to call the business and make a formal complaint against the therapist. This is assuming this happened in a multi-therapist office.
  5. Make a formal complaint against the therapist with the state Board of Massage Therapy.

I hope this never happens to you. I hope it never happens to anyone and I am horrified that it has happened at all.

How To Prevent Assault During a Massage

Unfortunately, in our world as it currently stands it is impossible to prevent someone from doing harm if they are intent on committing assault. Even if you’re willing to use deadly force to protect yourself there’s no guarantee you won’t still be hurt in the process. Such a sad and frightening prospect, but there are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself.

As a massage therapist in the State of Alabama, I am required to maintain a massage therapy license with the state. In order to do that I have to agree to and abide by a whole host of laws that deal with the ethical treatment of my clients. Many of those laws specifically outline boundaries and forbid me from assaulting a client. Not that I need a law to know that it’s just wrong to assault a client… So when considering going to a new massage therapist make sure they are licensed. And there are a few other things you can do, here’s how to tell if they’re legit and agree to ethical boundaries.

I hope you have found some helpful information here. And while I would have preferred to never have to address this situation, please know that Harvest Moon Massage Therapy will always be a safe space where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

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It’s no secret that sounds and music can have profound effects on mood. I think we’ve all experienced sentimentality while attending a wedding, the elation and hyperactivity after a rock concert, and irritation at an alarm that just will not stop. I’ve always been especially tuned in to noise and music which probably explains why I spent so much time in band and orchestra as a younger person. Thus I found it very interesting when I started seeing articles a few years ago about a new kind of music.

This “new” music was called binaural beats music. And essentially it is a type of music written such that each ear hears a different frequency or note. Sounds weird, right? Just weird enough that I had to try it!

So after a bit of research and reading I found some samples of binaural beats music. I have to admit I was skeptical. It flew in the face of all my musical education. And not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that I thought was perhaps just another gimmick, I settled down with the samples to listen and I was stunned at my body’s reaction.

After my first binaural beats music listen, I was drunk. Not the tipsy, let’s party kind of drunk; I was drowsy, time to go to bed drunk. And I went to bed and slept hard. Obviously more research was in order because one can’t just go around being drunk all day. Well, I guess one can, but it might really impact one’s ability to function productively in society.

So upon even more reading I discovered that binaural beats music has an interesting effect on the brain. Used mindfully, it can take one from a state of high functioning brain activity to a more relaxed state of brain activity. In lay terms, it can turn the monkey brain off and promote a more relaxed state of mind.

What would you do with a more relaxed state of mind?

Even more interesting, binaural beats music can be customized to take the brain into a state suitable for sleep (which is what I listened to that first time) or to an alert state great for getting all the things done or to enter that meditative state that is so healing and relaxing. If you’re still reading I know you’re now wondering how that works. Well, it’s got to do with sound frequency and how the brain responds to different frequencies and all of a sudden things get very sciency. If you’re really, really interested in the science behind it I recommend starting here to read about what’s happening in the brain when listening to this kind of music.

If you don’t really care about the science, that’s okay and you don’t have to know it to use binaural beats music. And even better the creators of binaural beats music (even some of the free stuff) label each “song” according to its purpose. So it’s really easy to find something that suits the kind of relaxing you need to do whether it be getting to sleep or getting into a creative groove.

So let’s get down to some details about how you listen to binaural beats music to get this relaxation effect. First you need to find some binaural beats music. Here is a website that let’s you download sample binaural beats music for free. You’ll need a set of earbuds or headphones and they need to be able to handle stereo sound. Get comfortable, take inventory and see how you feel, put on your headphones, and start the music. Plan to spend at least 15 minutes listening. When you’re finished take inventory again and see how you feel.

It might take a few tries to find something you like. Big surprise I’m sure, but I’m partial to nature sounds. It may also take a couple of tries to really start feeling the relaxation effect. It’s sort of like meditation or other relaxation methods in that you have to give your brain and body a chance to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, you must use earbuds or headphones. The technology simply doesn’t work without them. And some of this music you can’t hear at all without earbuds or headphones.

I hope this gives you one more self-care, stress-relieving technique in your arsenal. If you try it I’d love to hear about your experience. Happy Listening!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

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Harvest Moon Massage Therapy & Reflexology will be hosting a class in Traditional Herbal Flu Fighters. Get a jump on flu season this year by learning traditional herbal remedies and methods that local Native Americans and Appalachian settlers used.

Learn to identify, process and use sweet gum, elderberry and herbal teas.

Class includes: Herb walk, make and take a sweet gum tincture, taste elderberry syrup and herbal teas.

$10 per person + class materials (list will be emailed upon registration)

Class size is limited so register today!

Class will be led by Alice Evans. Alice is a second year student with Phyllis Light of the Appalachian Center for Natural Health and is pursuing her Community Herbalist certificate.

REGISTER HERE!

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This week has been jam packed with back pain in my office and so many have been asking what they can do for self-care at home between appointments so I decided to put a few more videos together that I find helpful.

I find myself recommending these two mobility exercises over and over again for upper back and neck pain. I actually use them myself when I get a stiff neck or that spot of pain further down between the shoulders that just makes my day miserable. The reason I think they work is that they both target increasing mobility in the upper back. A sticky or stuck upper back is many times a major player in neck (as well as shoulder) pain.

This first video I’ve been using for quite a while and find it very effective for loosening the upper back and getting the neck and back working together to reduce pain.

This next video also does a great job of getting the upper back moving so the neck can stop working so hard. It also shows you how to test to see how much progress you’re making with the stretches.

 

***Updated stuff I added***

So I was in the shower this morning thinking about why I only had two videos in this roundup and wondering if I’d forgotten something when I realized that I had indeed forgotten about this next video. Now, it’s a little different than most of the things I find, but when I tried the first part of the exercise worked so well I forgot to do the last two parts. If the video is any indication, I need to be doing this one every day!

And while I was looking around I found this Baby Rolling video that goes into explicit detail about how to improve your posture in just a few minutes.

After watching and trying these exercises, it’s a good idea to head on over and read a little more about head forward posture and how it contributes to upper back and neck pain. And then go learn how to strengthen the upper back with a simple move you can do anywhere. You won’t regret spending a few extra minutes with these articles.

As always, be gentle with yourself. Go slow, take care of yourself and if anything feels wrong, stop. If these exercises seem to help, but don’t quite take care of the issue give me a call and let’s see if we can get to the root of the problem.

***Micro mini fine print: I’m not a doctor and this article is not intended to replace medical advice. Please listen to your body and seek medical attention when necessary.***

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Only Master Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapist!

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