This month has held two significant days in the calendar dedicated to women - International Women's Day and Mother's Day. Over my years to date in the spa industry, and in my personal life, I have found women to be an essential part of my life - grounding me, lifting me up and giving me strength. What women bring to the world is not to the detriment of men - it's different to what men offer. I think there's a community amongst women, those we know and those we don't, that brings us together. It's what my mother would have called the 'sisterhood', and it's a space in which we all belong and can gain support, should we choose to tap into it.
Community and the spa sisterhood
The spa industry has its own community within the sisterhood. Spas are unique in the world of work as a place in which women have been the leaders for decades. Here, women have been the curators of a community of support, nurturing and wellbeing. Anyone who discovers it - whether personally or professionally - comes to know and love it.
Here, spa goers find a space in which the proverbial armour can come off - bodies are accepted for all the beauty they hold - mastectomy scars, muffin tops, sagging skin, cellulite and all. You can chat in your treatment and receive only compassion, or you can stay silent and know that the person giving you your massage offers the power of touch with empathy and care. It’s important to highlight that this is a world in which men are welcomed too - tapping into an energy that mothers in the truest sense of the word.
The benefits of the spa community
Make no doubt however, this is a community built on female strength, embodying the best of women's power and intent to make it inclusive and meaningful. Perhaps that is why the world of wellbeing has not always been taken as seriously as it should, as a potentially game-changing force for national wellbeing. Maybe there is confusion between the softness and care that this incredible community has to offer, conflating that with a lack of gravitas.
The stats however speak volumes, showing that not only is this magical world of wellbeing a joyful and restorative place to spend time, but it’s also an environment that can offer true, evidence-based holistic healing.
As a small insight, research shows that for cancer patients, massage benefits include reduced anxiety, stress, depression, general fatigue, reduced motivation fatigue, and emotional fatigue, reduced depression, improved sleep, reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure, as well as a decrease in physical discomfort and mood disturbance. The same study showed reduced perception of pain, nausea, and increased relaxation after a 10-minute foot massage with pain intensity, pulse rate, and respiratory rate significantly reduced immediately post massage.
Complementary therapy practices can lead to a 37% reduction in doctors’ visits
Our own research equates that to a potential economic saving of £3.3B per annum (£9 million per day) to the national health service.
Currently, around 20% of patients consult GPs for problems that are primarily social rather than medical, which could be addressed by the collaboration of the NHS with the wellbeing and holistic therapies sector.
In the UK, around 9 out of 10 people have tried a complementary therapy and 90% of this happens outside the NHS.
Cancer research has suggested that up to 40% of people with cancer use some kind of complementary therapy during their illness.
Other findings indicate that complementary therapy treatments help with stress and anxiety (54%), muscular pains (41%), lower back pain (26%), joint problems (22%) and tiredness and fatigue (22%).
Social prescribing of wellbeing and holistic therapies provide life changing support for those with conditions such as hormonal imbalance, puberty, fertility issues, pregnancy, menopause, anxiety, and stress – to name a few.
Spas are the embodiment of care, inclusivity and support
I recently saw this quote by author Jeanette LeBlanc, shared by Andrea Hannemann (a.k.a Earthy Andy) on Instagram (she too is a woman who has discovered her own power through her journey through healing and self-care):
“A circle of women may just be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get Naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love gentle. You will be changed. The very fabric of your being will be altered by this, if you allow it. Please, please allow it.”
I think that really speaks to the nurturing strength that women bring to their friendships, their working relationships and their working environments. The spa industry is the embodiment of that care, inclusivity and support that all of us need and benefit from. In many ways it’s been a quiet and self-sustaining community to date, but I don’t think there’s ever been a time where more people need to find it. It’s my intention to make sure that the spa world no longer remains quiet, but loudly celebrates its virtues to welcome even more people in. After all, that’s what community is all about.
Sometimes one golf course just isn't enough. Perhaps you're a pro and you want plenty of opportunity to challenge yourself during your weekend away. Maybe you're an enthusiastic beginner and you want to try your hand across the greens. These are the spa hotels with multiple golf courses and golf facilities on site.
Giving our mums and mother figures the gift of feel good factor, expert aromatherapist, Beverley Higham, writes about the intrinsic power of aromatherapy and how it can be used at home for everyday wellness.