Pre-COVID, getting a massage used to be a special treat I would look forward to with a lot of excitement. As spas started to re-open in New Jersey I wondered: Would it be safe to go back? With the stress of homeschooling twins while working a job, I was definitely in need of some rest and relaxation. When I saw that my favorite place, Alchemy Mind and Body had opened back up for business, I decided to make an appointment.

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One big reason I was okay with trying a massage in the time of COVID is that Alchemy is a small, local business that I had already visited in the past and trusted. Knowing that I was helping keep a small business going by booking an appointment felt great, and I also knew that the owner would take all safety measures very seriously. In normal times, this is a place that’s immaculately clean and peaceful. Since reopening, they have implemented enhanced cleaning procedures and many other protocols in order to adhere to CDC guidelines.

Located in Kingston’s historic Jedediah Higgins House, the spa is definitely a retreat from everyday life, which is something most of us need right now. I was lucky enough to book an appointment with the owner, Denyse. She graciously accommodated my tiny window of time when I would have an hour of free childcare on a Saturday afternoon. The day before my visit, I filled out an online COVID waiver and was instructed to call from my car upon arrival.

When I arrived at the spa, I knew that appointments would be staggered for safety, but was surprised to find I was the only car in the parking lot. Denyse was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful day and she greeted me and we went inside to check-in. Of course, we were both wearing masks and Denyse explained that the locker rooms were closed so I could simply change into the robe right there in the room where the massage would take place.

During the massage, when I was lying face down on the table, I had my mask off, but when it was time to flip over and lie face up, I did need to wear a face covering. This was a minor rule to have to follow. In fact, I would have gladly followed pretty much any rules in order to be able to experience the health benefits of massage which include soothing anxiety, promoting better sleep, boosting immunity and helping your body reset after prolonged sitting (which I’d been doing way too much of during quarantine).

While some may see a massage as non-essential, I disagree. Now more than ever parents need to take time out for themselves, get back in touch with their bodies and allow themselves to feel pleasure again. Taking care of yourself whether it’s through a massage, a workout or just a walk away from your house for a little while will only better equip you to deal with everything that’s going on at home. And if you can find a place that you trust, as I do with Alchemy, you can rest easy on the table knowing you’re in good hands and that you’re also doing something to keep the good stuff you love in your community going.