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The Thinking Practitioner Episode 14: Do We Keep Doing This?

Til Luchau:

Thanks Whitney, and thanks ABMP. What’s new Whitney? How you doing over there?

Whitney Lowe:

I’m doing okay. How are you doing? Every day is a different day of kind of like how crazy, how much more crazy is it going to be? How long is the crazy going to go on? We are still in the midst of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 shut down. This is very late April when we’re recording this, and I think we’re slated for mid May of release, so I don’t know what’s going to be happening at that time when this comes out. It’s still a very crazy world, I think, that we’re watching day to day here. How are things for you?

Til Luchau:

Well, I got an idea for an experiment. Let’s take a bunch of rats, who are used to roaming free and doing what they want and put them in a small cage where they can’t go anywhere, and then make them afraid every day, pop them full of things that make them afraid. Keep that going for a month or two, and then let’s check them out. Let’s see what they’re doing.

Whitney Lowe:

I think we have a good idea what might be happening. There’ll be some unhappy rodents.

Til Luchau:

Some unhappy rodents and there’s some unhappy people out there. Not to say everyone is. There’s diversity, and a lot of people are really finding meaning in the time that people have, or clarifying for themselves what they want from here going forward, getting ready for the new normal, using this as a reset. But there is a lot of upset and anxiety and fatigue from whether it’s Zoom, too much time on Zoom, or fatigue from the news cycle, or fatigue from not knowing, all that’s building up.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, absolutely. I think we talked about this a little bit and thought, well, hey, I think we need to sort of touch base and discuss some of these things and how it’s impacting everybody a little bit, so we’ll try to get into that a little today.

Til Luchau:

You propose the topic of staying with it. Staying with it, like why would we keep doing this work? And do we keep doing this work? And I love that, but what were you seeing that made you want to go into that today in our discussion?

Whitney Lowe:

Well, I think this kind of gets a bit more … The last two episodes we talked a lot about the cytokine storm and the inflammatory process. We were getting into the physiology and the health aspects of how this is impacting us as practitioners. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about the other side of this whole thing, which is sort of the personal aspect of relationship with us and our profession, and how that has been impacted by this. A lot of this has to do with discussions that I’ve seen on social media, as well as discussions that I’ve had with individual practitioners, clinic owners, school owners, students, of how is this changing our perspective on things?

Whitney Lowe:

The reality is when you listen to a lot of the discussions going around, not only in our field, this isn’t unique to us by any stretch of the imagination, I think a lot of people are asking questions about, “What do I do now?” We’re seeing unemployment numbers at such very, very high levels, and we don’t know where the top edge of that is going to ever top out. We’re seeing a lot of things that are making people say, “I don’t know how long I can keep not working and still do this.” I think the underlying question that I think comes up for many of these individuals when they’re grappling with this is everybody’s having to make a decision about, “What’s best for me, for my family, for my ability to provide for my family, or whatever it is that we’re doing with our income? Why would I stick with this? Why would I keep doing this?”

Whitney Lowe:

Now, for a lot of people, they stick with something because they have to. For most of the people that are in this field, it’s a choice to get into this field to do these things. I want to talk a little bit about what brought people to those choices and what makes them stick through a choice like this when things are getting really hard, because we do hear a lot of things from different people on some of these social media threads, in particular, about some of the various different difficulties of things that they’re working through.

Til Luchau:

That’s interesting to me. So what makes people stick through things? My bias, and I’m guessing yours is too, that that’s generally a good thing to stick to it, but I just want to put in a little plug for other points of view, too. Sometimes people are using this for a decision making process about whether to stick through it.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I think that’s a-

Til Luchau:

That’s something that we should have a discussion too.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, if you look at the statistics of people, and I’ll speak more so about the massage therapy profession, in particular, because we have a little bit more granular statistics about that. But there’s a lot of people in the field who are in that as part-time workers, and one of the questions that might come up is like, is this something they would keep doing under these kind of circumstances? Because this is going to radically change the way you do things in the clinic treatment room with the heightened level of disinfecting that we’re going to need to do and the way in which we’re going to have to alter the way we practice with people.

Whitney Lowe:

Might this be the kind of thing that would cause a lot of people to say, “Well, I liked doing this, but there’s too much other hassle stuff that goes along with this. Now I don’t know that I’m going to keep up doing it.” I’ve heard that from a number of practitioners, and so that’s one of the things that made me just begin asking the question, why would people stay in this? What is it about this particular field that was going to make the people want to stay and want to continue working with the increased challenges that we’re going to have?

Til Luchau:

Okay, tell me, what would make people hang in?

Whitney Lowe:

I thought about this a while and I thought, here’s a couple of things that come up for me, the things that you hear most from people are the things like, “Well, people are going to need massage when this is over, because this has been very stressful for them. It’s been hard. It’s been impactful on them. They’re going to need to do some things like this.” I certainly think that’s true. The other part of this is there’s a lot of people out there who are grappling with soft tissue pain and injury conditions that involve the musculoskeletal system that they’ve been relying on massage therapy for addressing and helping them to manage their way through this. So lots of those people have not been able to get that kind of care.

Whitney Lowe:

You think in particular about the chronic pain patients who’ve been using massage to help manage symptoms that they’ve been experiencing, so clearly, there’s a lot of that kind of thing going on. I was trying to think back on this and thought, well, I think back on the last several podcasts that we did, the discussion of inflammatory implications, the piece that we did on the cytokine storm, the piece that we did on descending modulation, and those other aspects of all the more sort of peripheral facets of what we’re doing that really have whole kinds of system wide benefits these individuals. These are all reasons that people are going to still want massage and need massage, and reasons for people to hang in there with this because they’re dedicated to that idea of being there to help people.

Whitney Lowe:

There’s no question that we’re all faced with various different types of challenges. There’s been a popular meme floating around on lots of the social media pages, and I can’t remember who said this first, I think it was one of the legislative officials or something like that, that said, “We’re all in the same storm. We are just not all in the same boat.” And I think that’s a real good aspect of this. Some people are going to be able to weather this easier than others. Maybe people who had a two income household, and the other spouse or partner within the household is working at another job that has not been as badly financially impacted as us, that person won’t be struggling as much as will the maybe single parent individual who is using their massage therapy practice for sole income for their family. That certainly does bring up a lot of those kinds of questions.

Til Luchau:

It does. And there’s a lot of acrimony in the background within different professions, whether you’re a massage therapist or other kind of manual therapy practitioner. We are turning on each other a bit at this point. And that experiment with the rats, make the rats scared every day for a few months and see what they do to each other, but there’s also a lot of background issues. One of them is this one you mentioned, Whitney, about diversity of privilege and options. There’s people that feel like they have zero options and really do need to survive. Their issues are survival, “How do I actually survive?”

Til Luchau:

There’s other people who say, “My life isn’t that much different. I was only seeing a few clients anyway. I don’t travel. I spend a lot of time at home, so my life hasn’t changed.” We have a whole spectrum of effects and a whole spectrum of threat levels going on. And just bringing up the issue of privilege, how privileged and how many options do we each have?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Massage as a methodology or soft tissue manipulation or bodywork or however you want to categorize it, has in many respects been perceived or categorized by a number of people as something that is done with discretionary income.

Til Luchau:

Luxury item.

Whitney Lowe:

It’s a luxury item. Yeah, it’s nice, but it’s not an essential type of thing. And for many people, it has become something that’s really important part of maintaining their overall sense of wellness and health. That question comes up about how do you define essential services? Or how do you define what is luxury and what is necessity? And where do we fit in there? And I think that’s one of the things that caused a lot of people to have all this debate and discussion about, when do we close? Because, hey, I’m an essential service. I shouldn’t be forced to close because I’m dealing with healthcare problems and things like that.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, that’s right. It might be different by the time this airs, but the current debate is about when do we open and how do we know when we open that’s [crosstalk 00:11:13].

Whitney Lowe:

That’s right. I think that it is interesting because the closing decisions had some very different types of things to consider around them than the opening decisions. The closing decisions were, oftentimes this happened in a matter of days. Okay, a mandate came down from the state legislature, you have to close. Okay, walk out the door, close it and lock it, and that’s it for an undetermined period of time. But this question about how do we open back up is now fraught with all kinds of stuff about what kind of personal protective equipment does a manual therapist wear? How do you disinfect fabric in your office treatment room? What kinds of things can be done to make sure that we’re not enhancing any further spread of infectious processes in our treatment rooms that …

Whitney Lowe:

Sure, we thought about universal precautions before, but we didn’t think about it in that level of detail that we’re really having to think about now.

Til Luchau:

Bigger implications.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Bigger implications. And again, diversity, because there’s acrimony on that issue as well. There’s everything from people making the case that it’s unethical to even be working, some people are saying it’s murder if you decide to see clients, to the people saying, “Hey, it’s a choice I want to make for myself. My client is okay with it, too.” So there’s that whole spectrum of different reactions to that question of, should I work or not too? You and I decided not to try to get into the specific recommendations about how to go back to work, because it’s still in flux for one. We’ll know more as time goes by, but I can see a place for some clarity and pointed discussions about, what does the science say? How do you deal with those issues in your practice?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Looking at, I think, some of our best models will tend to come from watching what has happened in some of the other countries who were ahead of us on the timeline of when they had the infections come up to the highest level and what has happened as they’ve begun to ease off of that. But there’s some really important distinctions that get into, boy, deep elements of sociopolitical structure in our society. It’s way different. For example, I think personally about the way in which the requirements may have been handed down and also enforced and followed in a place like South Korea, compared to the way in which they might be followed and enforced and pursued here in the United States where the sociopolitical mindset of our country is independence, of, “Nobody is going to tell me what to do,” kind of thing. That whole rugged independence thing that we have here.

Til Luchau:

Personal freedom.

Whitney Lowe:

There’s that whole thing about freedom here, that’s put a really different spin on this whole idea of everybody following the rules that were passed down. And so that’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out, I think, with this whole reopening process here. And that I think, too, has led to a lot of the degrees of uncertainty from everybody. You can ask the question, why we keep doing this? Can be asked about why do we keep doing massage or why do we keep not doing massage? Those two things, both are falling into that whole question of why.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. I put out a little ping on social media a week or so ago. We originally slated to talk about, what’s the value of hands on deck? What’s the value of body work/ Because it’s great to have a reminder for that. Maybe we’re still going to get to that, because it’s interesting topic. But when I did my ping on social media, I put out the question, so remind me, why would I pay for this stuff anyway? Just as a rhetorical question. And it generated a really rich list of benefits and values that practitioners see in the work. It also, and I should have predicted this, it generated a backlash of anger and defensiveness and outrage that someone was even asking that question. It’s a touchy subject.

Whitney Lowe:

Absolutely. I mean, you had responses in the hundreds to that thing that you put out, was there anything that stuck out for you in terms of themes or concepts or ideas that were particularly important of that group of things that came back in?

Til Luchau:

Yeah. I did my categorization thing I do, trying to organize it somehow. And basically, it came down to the benefits side, that people believe and were willing to articulate was the big one, and maybe biggest, “It feels good. It’s an amazing experience.” And a lot of the responses were, “You’ve obviously never even been on a table if you’re asking this question.” Which is true. If you’ve had that experience, if you’ve had an amazing hands-on experience, you don’t even question its value. It’s one of the best experiences you could ever have, and people are going to come back to that. It’s that primal level of safety, relaxing, calming that nothing else can touch in quite the same way.

Whitney Lowe:

There’s been all of these comparisons between what’s happening now. If you look, again, just on the economics level alone, with the unemployment numbers in this country looking like they might approach the Great Depression, and people saying, “Where does massage therapy fit in this kind of world?” The thing I think to remember is that we have to be careful about making some of those kinds of comparisons, because the world that existed prior to COVID-19, just two, three months ago, was very different than the world that existed in 1927, prior to the depression, of what society is like, what we do with ourselves, how we work, how we engage with things.

Whitney Lowe:

We have to be careful about making some of those kinds of predictions about, whether or not this is a valid thing, whether it’s going to come back, based on looking back only and making those kinds of comparisons, because we’re coming from a very different place to start with.

Til Luchau:

We are. This feels good thing raises really interesting questions about, is feeling good enough for us to trust in this value? Are we uncomfortable with the hedonism or the luxury aspect that that implies? Probably. Some of us are, some of us are not. That’s where it gets uncertain when we think about economic changes is that are people going to be able to afford that luxury? But really, pleasure, per se, and enjoyment are essential nutrients in our emotional diet, and people will seek those out and find those and get those, no matter how. Pleasure, I think is really a marginalized dimension, culturally, here. I love to see a stand for just the fact that this stuff feels good, and that’s what it does.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. We’ve had numerous discussions about the way in which we live in a culture that feels, in many instances, increasingly alienated from each other. And despite the fact that we’ve connected with people all over the world through electronics and the capability to increase communication, many of us don’t know the people that live next door to us. And that sense of direct personal connection from person to person with somebody who is seeking some degree of care and nurturance through a practitioner, in this instance a massage, bodyworker, whatever you call yourself, that thing has become a very important part of our culture and of our society. It’s one of the things that makes me think that, yeah, we’re going through a really rocky period right now, and it’s likely going to come back pretty significantly on the other side of this.

Whitney Lowe:

It may take a while for it to be back where it was, and it may not be like it was before. There may be things that have changed permanently for us. We don’t know what those necessarily are, but I do think that there’s going to be a rebounding strength to the things that we’re doing.

Til Luchau:

Well, and the sense that we can trust the value of what we offer. We don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know how it’s going to change in terms of economic models, et cetera, but we can trust that what we’re offering is valuable. The other themes I pulled out of that Facebook episode was anxiety, depression, mood shift, and there’s actually decent evidence that hands-on work does shift those things for people. A great self care ritual, just a thing that people do as part of taking care of themselves and valuing and strengthening themselves. Pain effects came up for sure. Again, there’s decent evidence that we can probably have some significant impact on people’s pain, improve performance, inflammation recovery.

Til Luchau:

The list is really long, and it’d be interesting to sort those out in terms of their, say, evidence base or maybe even motivator for clients. But all those things that I listed do have some evidence base and certainly there’s things that clients use as motivators to come.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, absolutely. A couple of other things I want to get into on this aspect of what we’re talking about here and explore a couple other new facets as well. We’re going to take just a brief moment here to hear from our halftime sponsor and then we will come back and touch base on some of those. So who are we hearing from today, Til?

Til Luchau:

Today it’s Handspring, my favorite publisher, and that’s because Handspring is the one I chose to publish my books. I did a big search, I got some great offers from different places, but I chose them in the end. Small publisher in Scotland specializing in books right for our field and related fields. It’s run by four great people who are really working hard to bring us top quality information. They’re also doing a lot of interesting work about adapting to the changing circumstances we’re in. So for instance, they are running their movement series now. I see, Whitney, you’re supposed to tell us about that, sorry for stealing your line. You want to tell us about Moved to Learn piece?

Whitney Lowe:

Absolutely, happy to. Handspring does have a new instructional webinar series called Moved to Learn. It’s a regular series of each 45 minutes segments featuring some of their most amazing authors. So you can head on over to their website at handspringpublishing.com to check those out. And also while you’re there, have a look at that excellent catalog and be sure to use the code TTP, that’s like The Thinking Practitioner at checkout for a discount. So again, we thank Handspring very much for their continuing and ongoing support of the podcast here.

Til Luchau:

Handspringpublishing.com, TTP. All right, Whitney, where do you want to pick it back up? We have some good stuff. Do you want to talk about what makes us hang in to be doing this?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. We’ll talk about what makes us hang in a little bit. I want to share one interesting little episode or story with you from an experience I had this morning. I was doing a little Zoom classroom presentation with a group of students at a community college in New Hampshire. And I was curious to ask the students, because the students in the school have all been trying to grapple with, how do we go to school in the midst of this thing? How do we change the things that we’re doing to go to school and the classroom? But I was also really curious to hear, in relation to what we were talking about in our podcast today, how has this impacted their perception of wanting to enter the field when they hear all this stuff about people having to shut their practice down, all that stuff?

Whitney Lowe:

Has that changed their desire to get into that?

Til Luchau:

Yeah, very interesting time. What an interesting time it is.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I asked the group this question, and everybody said like, “Yeah, it’s been really kind of scary to watch this whole sort of thing.” A few people said some things like, “Yeah, it’s kind of kicked my motivation a little bit just because I see everybody else having to shut things down.” But a lot of them were also resonating many of the same points that we’ve been talking about. They think massage is important. It’s going to be needed when we come out on the other side of this. It’s something that’s really going to be there for them.

Whitney Lowe:

I still think everybody’s having to adjust to all kinds of things, but I think the people who are coming into this may have a possibly even elevated sense of meaning and purpose behind why they’re doing what they’re doing to recognize, “Yeah, I went through a load of real crap at school trying to get through school in the midst of a global pandemic, because I really believe in this field and I want to do my training there.” To me, that was an interesting perception and perspective that we don’t see represented in a lot of those discussions.

Til Luchau:

That’s so true, though. We need something like this sometimes to reboot our set of meaning and priorities. If I was just entering a new career and wanted to pick something that I was sure was going to be worth my investment, it would be a tough sell, just on the purely investment side. Maybe it’s always been a tough sell, honestly, for massage and bodywork in spite of the promise of higher hourly wages, low training to wage ratio. The reality is, once you get in it, you realize, no, this is hard work and it’s not the way that you go if you’re just after the money. And that’s honestly, most people who get into it know that. They’re not doing this because they want the most money. If they wanted that, they would have done something else.

Til Luchau:

And so you’re saying there’s a refinement going on where people are really even more mission driven, or even saying, “Okay, this is work that is important and does offer something of value and I want to be in that and I want to be doing that.”

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think that’s true. There was a post that you shared that had come from somewhere on social media, I don’t know where you had pick it up, of somebody who was expressing a great deal of disappointment and also sounded in their message almost like resentment about the amount of money they had spent on their training and their continuing education and thought, “This is all not worth it, because I can’t do this.” But, I mean, the reality is you could pick any number of professions that you might have gone into, and you’d be facing the same thing of not being able to work and not being able to do things. I mean, let’s say you decided to own a restaurant or something, you might have just lost your entire life savings that you put into restaurant establishment or something like that.

Whitney Lowe:

All of those things could potentially have been impacted or affected in a lot of different ways. I think too, not to just boil this down into just a simplistic business thing, but we often have to look at these things through that lens.

Til Luchau:

Let’s try anyway.

Whitney Lowe:

I was saying this to the students as well, if you look at the employment landscape across our field, there have been a lot of people employed in our field, as we said earlier in this podcast, who were doing this as somewhat part-time kind of work, or maybe they weren’t wholly invested in it. They did it because it was convenient and easy, and they thought, “Hey, this is a great place to get started with doing some stuff.” This is just my prediction at this stage of the game, I think a significant number of those people may end up leaving the field because of this and because of the economic challenges now that they’ve been faced with and go look to do something else.

Whitney Lowe:

Which means, I don’t think when we come back from the whole other side of this thing, the market for massage may have been diminished to an equal degree, in which case there’s going to be a lot of employment opportunities for these people, or a lot of options to fill those spaces and voids left by the people who left the profession. There’s some benefits-

Til Luchau:

Okay, go ahead please.

Whitney Lowe:

… coming down the line, I think in terms of potential economic benefits for people later on down.

Til Luchau:

Because you say the field is going to narrow perhaps, in terms of the supply side.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

But I disagree with you, I got to say.

Whitney Lowe:

All right, let’s hear it.

Til Luchau:

In terms of part-timers, let’s say, now half in, half out, I’m all over what you just said. That some of those are going to say it’s not worth it, and they’re going to step back. And it’s like that kind of pruning makes the field stronger in the end. That was my assumption too until I did a little data project with ABMP maybe six years ago I think it was, it’s been a while, about five, six years ago. And it was actually stimulated by the waves that came out of the 2008 recession, and so ABMP came to me and says, “Let’s do something around the psychology of a successful practice.” We went back and forth and cooked it down to try to measure what actual things do people do that correlates with them having a successful practice.

Til Luchau:

We redefined that as satisfied with their practice, because there’s so many different measures for a successful practice. But when you look at how people are satisfied with their practice, both in terms of size and in terms of the quality of the work they’re doing, part-timers are way more satisfied than full-timers.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think you’re right about that, and I think that’s a good clarification because I think maybe the better perspective to look at that is maybe not the timeframe that you’re invested in it, but your level of investment in it, which may be different from person to person. Some people might even be full-timers and just still saying, “Hey, I’m not quite so invested in this.” Just like an example, I have a colleague who I’ve worked with for many years, and I just saw a post on social media the other day from him saying he’s closing his practice permanently. But he also was on the verge of retirement, having had done this for 25 years. So that’s not a part-timer, that’s somebody very invested in this for a long time of saying, “Hey, I was really close to retirement, and this is the thing that just pushed it into that place.”

Whitney Lowe:

So I think you’re right. The determining factor may not be part-time versus full-time, but really like, what’s your overall level of investment in what you’re doing here?

Til Luchau:

Yeah. And we do this because we love it, and if you have another source of income, you’re freer to actually love it more. You’re freer to do it for the meaning and the pleasure it provides.

Whitney Lowe:

That’s true.

Til Luchau:

I know so many people in my trainings that are in that category. Now, on the other hand, there’s nothing like hunger to make you serious and to make you go forward with it. And it’s often that that really challenges people to change and go for what they want. I mean, think about all of our immigrant ancestors who came there, whether it was 20,000 years ago across the bank straight or more recent like my ancestors, people came here because they were hungry and desperate. They were willing to do what it took to have a new life, and that’s what we’re facing with that level of difficulty, but that sort of process where it’s like … You have a chance here to make this work because you need to pay the bills and take that chance.

Whitney Lowe:

My secret hope out of this, and this may be sort of a distorted kind of wish, but my hope is that, if this does in fact create some degree of contraction within the field, that what we do end up with is those people, just like you were saying, who are really far more serious about doing this and living through all the extra crap they’re going to have to do now, because they really believe in what they’re doing here and not just because hey, this is a convenient, easy way to make some money and not have to do anything and have our own schedule kind of thing.

Whitney Lowe:

They’ll really be in it because, “I consider myself a serious contributor to the health and well being of the human population here, through the vehicle of massage/bodywork/whatever is your approach that you’re taking, and therefore I’m willing to live through these additional challenges and difficulties in order to keep doing this, because I’m mission driven about this.”

Til Luchau:

That’s right. Hearing it as a calling, we do our work, and then we figure out how to do our work. Sometimes our work pays us when times are good, and if we’re doing it right or doing it with the right people, somehow we can get paid directly, but there’s lots of ways to keep doing our work and keep doing the service we do. I’m so embarrassed I’m not remembering Irene’s last name. She does some great stuff around business. Do you know who I’m talking about?

Whitney Lowe:

Irene Diamond.

Til Luchau:

Thank you, Irene Diamond. She had a post that caught my eye a while back. People that emerge from this are going to be so much stronger, and that choice happens now. When you’re going to emerge, are you going to emerge stronger? There’s things you can do now that make a difference for you.

Whitney Lowe:

What is that popular bumper sticker? That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Not literally in this sense, but the difficulties of having worked through those things that put all the challenges for us, but they absolutely will make us stronger, I think.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. Well, where do you want to go next? You had some great thoughts you wanted to share, I know. You want to talk about what we do in the meantime? You want to talk about challenges?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Well, I’ve been interested to watch this process too of what is everybody doing in the meantime, just as an interesting thing. With our online courses for example, we have a lot of people who bought courses, I think with good intentions of doing things in them, and then their busy lives got in the way and they never got around to it. I have been inundated with students coming back like, “Hey, I bought this course two years ago and I now want to get started doing it.” I’ve been really busy trying to manage a lot of the getting students into doing things. It’s great to see people taking the time and using it valuably to move themselves forward, to benefit themselves, to say, “Hey, I want to be even more skilled and more knowledgeable when I come out on the other end of this.” That’s one perspective.

Whitney Lowe:

But I’ve also watched and listened to other people say things like, “I’m just trying to take a break. I’m just trying to put some space in my life, to meditate, to be quiet, to settle down,” because there is really benefit in doing those kinds of things as well. And those things can enhance the quality of the work that we do when we come back to this, because it’s going to be stressful for quite a while, I do believe. I think there’s going to be a lot of challenges and difficulties economically, and just logistically with how do we do this stuff under these new guidelines. This is going to be challenging, so the more grounded you can be and more prepared to deal with some of those challenges, I think the better off that we’re potentially going to be.

Til Luchau:

All right. Well, what do you think of this idea, challenges sound really likely, stress is one possible response.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Stress is one response to the challenge, you mean?

Til Luchau:

Yeah, we have other responses to challenge. I mean, you said it’s going to be stressful, the stress triggers are high, the stress factors are high, the stress stakes are high. Stress is one possible response. The upside of stress is it mobilizes resources, gets our attention, makes us deal with things.

Whitney Lowe:

To remember, stress is often a word that is used only in its negative connotations. Stress is a strengthening mechanism as well, just like we said that things that don’t break you make you stronger. I mean, we talk about stressing tissues all the time to make them stronger, that’s how you gain strength through conditioning and weight training is stressing those tissues. These things that will be stressors in our lives will also, I think, have the potential to reinforce our commitment to our mission about why we’re out here doing these things and wading through these challenges to help people as best we can.

Til Luchau:

So do you have a sense of the specifics around that? What people can do in the bridge time here, in between time.

Whitney Lowe:

My encouragement to people always is find ways to enrich yourself and make yourself better during this time, and you’ve got to decide what that means. If it were me, I mean, I haven’t really had the situation where I’ve been off of work like a lot of other people have, because my work is around building course content and things like that, and actually has accelerated during this time that we’ve been off. So that’s a little bit of a different view from ways that other people have been doing things.

Til Luchau:

So you’re acknowledging your privilege then, your options?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it hasn’t necessarily translated into an economic benefit, because all this time that I’ve got doing this stuff is really set aside … Those of us who create coursework realize there’s a lot of upfront work before anything is released and put out, and so that’s where we are now is in the production phase.

Til Luchau:

I’m totally piggybacking on your train there. I’ve been so busy and yet the revenue numbers are way down because heavily discounting, all sorts of ideas about that to support people, letting people in etc, etc. But yeah, right with you, lots of business but doesn’t [inaudible 00:36:42]. So anyway, how about this self enrichment thing?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I think people have to ask those questions like, “What do I really want to do with this time that is going to benefit me the most?” And I have to admit, there have been days and times where I have gotten sucked into the negativity and the despair and like, oh, man, what is going to happen to the world? Kind of thing. I noticed that I have to, at some point, extract myself from listening to the news a certain degree and just decided to get off of social media, not listen to the debates and the arguments and all that kind of stuff at a certain point, but-

Til Luchau:

Watch your media diet, that’s what you’re saying.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, you really do. And I’m really susceptible to that, because I like to listen to a lot of different ideas and opinions about things, so I have to be careful about that. I think for each of us, we have to find, what are those things that can really help us? What’s our growing edge? What can we do to nurture that growing edge? And that might mean study, and that might mean taking some courses and reading a book that you’ve been wanting to read or studying a piece that you’ve been wanting to, or it might mean spending more time with your family and your animals and whoever it is in your life that’s quarantining with you, in a way to figure out how to do better things.

Whitney Lowe:

Learning and giving some good imaginative thought to, how am I going to work through sanitation protocols in my treatment room when this is all over? Those kinds of things. But my encouragement to everybody is really try to focus on self enrichment in a way to think through, I want to come back to this even stronger, even better, and more prepared to deal with the challenges that we have ahead. This period will create even stronger practitioners and stronger, more resilient people, I think, for us, as a profession in a whole.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, and I just want to spin off of that a little bit and say, I’m all over that. It’s self enrichment, and whatever that means. And if you have the options to read, to study, to relax, to enjoy your family, then by all means, enjoy those. Even if you know this is true, and it is true that there’s people that don’t have those options, they don’t feel like they’re able to relax or read or study. They’re more concerned about survival and things lower down on the hierarchy of needs. “How am I simply going to pay the mortgage?” If that’s you, then that’s a different kind of enrichment, then you’re being called to actually take action to do what’s necessary to ensure your survival, and that’s also going to build the base for your richer life to come.

Whitney Lowe:

A very challenging time for us, absolutely. And as I said, here we are in late April, and we don’t know what it’s going to be like a week from now, much less several weeks from now or longer. But we are coming into an interesting time where people are starting to open things back up here, and I think those are the big question marks of where do we come back into this as manual therapy practitioners? When is it okay for us to start doing some of these things? And how do we reintegrate ourselves? We may touch on some of those challenges in some future episodes as well. But as our overall theme today, I just want to leave everybody, hopefully thinking about there’s a reason that you got into this.

Whitney Lowe:

Most likely and specifically, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably somebody who cares about what you do, because you could be watching Game of Thrones or something else instead of doing this. If you’re somebody who really cares about doing really good, high quality work, you’re in this for a reason. We’re all going to try to hang together and work through these challenges, but remember that there’s a very important, underlying reason that we all got into doing this, to help be with people as much as we can.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. Taking that away, I would say plan. Plan on doing your work again, even if it’s not the same as it was in the past. If this is really a calling for you, you’ll find a way to work it in, and then work on the meantime in that self enrichment, whether that’s from a place of options and enhancing your life or a place of survival, do that, work on that, get the support you need. We’re here to help. And then oh, I got to say this, Whitney. There’s an amazing article I read the other day about a research project about inflammatory markers and loneliness.

Whitney Lowe:

Oh, interesting.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. We’ve known for a long time there’s a pretty clear marker between loneliness and inflammatory reactivity. You’re more reactive inflammatorily if you’re lonely. Well, it turns out we can do things about it the other way too. If you can change loneliness, you actually change that reactivity. The experiment I read about was actually doing something for somebody else. They took people that had self identified as being lonely in their lives, and gave them a list of options of things to do for someone else, including a donation to an online GoFundMe account, helping deliver meals, and then they measure their inflammatory markers, and their inflammatory markers went down.

Whitney Lowe:

Interesting.

Til Luchau:

Isn’t that cool?

Whitney Lowe:

That’s very cool.

Til Luchau:

And here’s the other thing, it didn’t matter if it was an online act or an in-person act, because they wondered, was it going to be different if it actually involves some physical action or just go quick something? Turns out that people that did either of those things had a clearly significant reduction in their inflammatory.

Whitney Lowe:

Wow. That is cool.

Til Luchau:

I’ll put the link in the show notes.

Whitney Lowe:

Good. That sounds great. Good. Thank you for that.

Til Luchau:

Are we ready for-

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think we touched base on a good number of things here today, so we want to try to leave everybody with some good, positive thoughts about hanging in there and doing the very best work that we can now so that we can have an opportunity to get out there and do the best work that we do with the people coming down. Thank you again to all of the listeners, people who’ve spent time hanging out with us. We really appreciate you. And if you get a chance, hop on over to Apple podcast or wherever else you listened to us and give us a rating and tell your friends about us.

Til Luchau:

And subscribe, that helps us too, by the way. We see subscribers, then that helps us evolve.

Whitney Lowe:

Absolutely, yeah. We want to say thank you to our sponsors, and also stop by our site for show notes, transcripts and extras, that is at the thinkingpractitioner.com. And, Til, are you on the interwebs where people can find you?

Til Luchau:

A little too much lately, but looking forward to find ways to make that healthy too. I’m at advanced-trainings.com. How about you Whitney?

Whitney Lowe:

Yep, also on the interwebs over at academyofclinicalmassage.com. We have had a couple of messages and things from people sending over to us emails, we appreciate hearing from you all the time. You can send us emails at [email protected] as well. We appreciate hearing from you as much as possible. I think that’s it for what we’re going to try to jump into today, and otherwise, we will catch you again and see everybody here again in two weeks.

Til Luchau:

Hang in there everybody. Hang in there Whitney. I look forward to talking to you some more.

Whitney Lowe:

Okay, sounds good. We’ll do it.

 

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