In the spirit of keeping our community connected, we wanted to share some of the most prudent tips and bits of advice we’ve been hearing from you and your colleagues as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis and all its ramifications.
Make the Calls
While there are no easy economic solutions to the financial crisis faced as a result of this pandemic, there are things you can do right now to give yourself the best opportunity for successfully moving forward when it’s all said and done. Now is the time to shore up your resources, take control of what you can, and be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. Start by making the calls.
Call your creditors
The potential financial burdens you may face can be reduced if you start talking to your creditors now. Many MTs have reported success when asking for relief with credit card payments, medical bills, auto financing, and more. From deferred payments to lowered interest rates, see if your creditors are willing to help. For federally funded student loans, you can now ask for an administrative forbearance, which means you can temporarily stop making your loan payments without becoming delinquent. Call your loan servicer for more information.
Call your bank
Contact your bank about opening a cash reserve on your checking account. These lines of credit protect you against overdrafts and can provide a necessary financial cushion. In addition, your bank might be able to offer you a single payment loan or some other option to help you stay afloat. Some banks are also offering deferred loan payments, zero interest rates on bank cards and cash reserves, and waived banking fees. It never hurts to ask how your bank can help you during these uncertain times.
Be Kind to Each Other
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own bubbles and forget that everyone is going through the same thing we are. People are losing their businesses, their customers, their clients, their jobs, their income. Families are transitioning to home-based work when they can, and children across the country are figuring out how to adapt to remote learning. And we’re all missing out on milestones: the high schooler missing their senior prom, the traveler missing a long-saved-for trip abroad, the patient missing a long-awaited medical procedure, the grandma who will miss the birth of their first grandchild. The point is, even in the most stress-filled days, we must remember that we’re all in this together. Let that fact offer you perspective when things feel overwhelming, and let it guide you to offer kindness instead of frustration, and compassion over fear.
Watch Out for Coronavirus Scams
Don’t let your anxiety during this time lead to poor decisions. The US Secret Service has issued this warning about coronavirus scams being perpetrated:
www.secretservice.gov/data/press/releases/2020/20-MAR/Secret_Service_Coronavirus_Phishing_Alert.pdf, while this advice comes from Norton AntiVirus:
Do Your Research
- Some states have enacted greater protections for their people, including new restrictions on residential evictions, revised debt collection protocols, and more. Go to your county and state websites to see how your area is impacted and find any measures that might specifically help you.
- If you haven’t already, it’s also time to map out your finances for the next 2–3 months. Where can you save, where can you purge? This blog from Massage & Bodywork columnist Allissa Haines offers more great advice about crisis management for your practice: www.abmp.com/updates/blog-posts/financially-surviving-covid-19.
- Remember that the government has extended tax filing dates to July 15. Find out more about the IRS response to COVID-19 at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Stay Engaged … Sanely
Now is not the time to put your head in the sand, as much as we all want to. Stay current with the news, but keep it focused and in doses. Don’t keep the cable channels streaming all day long as background noise … it only heightens your stress. Pick specific times to engage with the news and stick to it as much as possible. Watch and read national news, but even more importantly, stay connected to your local news. This is where you’ll find the most current and accurate information about your community and your state.
Find Ways to Help
- You are used to helping people on a daily basis and you can continue to do so. There are so many ways you can make a difference, even while we wait for normalcy to return.
- Check in with your neighbors; see if you can help anyone get groceries or pet goods.
- Help distribute meals to the children still picking up necessary food stocks from their local schools. Call your school district for opportunities to help.
- Donate blood if you are healthy. The Red Cross has started asking for donors to help during this crisis; go to redcrossblood.org for info.
- Start a Facebook group for your small community of MTs and bodyworkers to stay connected.
- If you are fortunate to have a multi-income family and you are able to help support small businesses, consider pre-buying your next few massage sessions to help out a colleague who is struggling.
- Watch out for your single friends and neighbors. Professional isolation topped with social isolation is especially tough on those who may have no one to hunker down with. Start text chats with groups to keep connected. Reach out and make sure folks know they aren’t alone.
Find a Positive Every Day
Even in the hardest times, finding moments of gratitude is important. It reminds us of our spirit, it gives fullness to the heart, and it lifts us to a better place. Not saying it’s always easy, but taking time to remember those things in our day that we should be thankful for can help fight the darkness.
And Take Care of Yourself
Try to stick to normal routines as best you can. Continue to boost your immune system with fresh fruit and veggies whenever possible. Get outside and move. And practice self-care in everything you do. Read this blog from ABMP’s Angie Parris-Raney about taking back your power.
Have advice or wisdom to share with your massage and bodywork community? Email your ideas to email@example.com and we’ll continue to curate all the best information to share with all of you. Together, the journey is a little easier.Karrie Osborn is senior editor at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.