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Stress and the spa industry

How we take care of our team and our community

This month is Stress Awareness Month. I always find it a little odd when there are days, weeks or months dedicated to things that impact us all year round, but while it can seem like an excuse for lots of marketing campaigns, I have come to realise that shining a spotlight on areas that many of us simply live with throughout the year, is an opportunity to do that little bit more to support one another.

You would think in the spa world that stress was something we have handled down to a fine art - in some ways we do - other peoples' stress at least. However, just like everyone else, anyone in the spa industry has the challenges of work, home and headspace to handle.

Stress and my spa world

As an employer I am acutely aware of wanting to do what we can to support those who work for us.

As a business partner I see how hard therapists and their teams work. I know how much they absorb from clients and the world around them, and in particular the strain they experienced during the pandemic.

As a business owner, it gives me enormous joy to share spa experiences that appear to be a luxury with our customers, but in reality can prove to be a truly enjoyable and accessible part of wellbeing. Even as someone who has been to many spas over my career, it never fails to amaze me how truly impactful a spa treatment can be when it comes to helping to manage stress.

It's my lifelong ambition to make sure that the health benefits of spa therapies and spa experiences are properly shared to the point where they become integrated with national healthcare for a more holistic approach to wellbeing. I think that in having that goal however, it's incredibly important to start at 'home' and for me that's looking after my team.

Managing stress: process v personalisation

This year we celebrate 15 years of Spabreaks.com and over that time we have always worked to achieve an internal culture that’s fun, respectful, supportive and nurturing. Our team has always been incredibly special - collaborative, communicative, characterful and truly caring of one another.

Over the years, and as we have grown, we have been able to formalise a number of processes and protocols to support team members on lots of levels - professional wellbeing as well as mental and physical health. However, for every process we put in place I think that one of the most important things we can remember is that each member of the team is an individual and there's only a certain extent to which those people can fit with standardised policies.

This is where things like flexible working have been game changing and we have been advocates of that where possible since long before it was fashionable. As a working mum, the ability to adapt the hours I work has been essential to building the business whilst raising a family, and where I can I try to offer similar flexibility to the people I work with.

However hard we all work, people don't always fit neatly into a corporate box. Life happens, whether that relates to a health problem, juggling family life with work or generally having difficulties for one reason or another. As a result, we have always fostered a culture of compassion and communication so we can help individuals to do their best at work and at home.

For example, we had one team member around six years ago who was commuting over an hour and a half a day and having marital and financial issues. He came to me and together we decided he should work from home full-time to rebuild his marriage. Today he is still working 100% from home and is still happily married.

Learning from personalised spa treatments

So, what does this have to do with stress and the spa industry? Clearly situations like the one I mention are stressful, but juggling work and life and health in general is a lot to handle, even when it's the good kind of stress. I think processes are important, but I also think that one of the essential elements of supporting one another's wellbeing is to recognise that it's personal.

Personalisation has been an evolving and pointed change in the spa industry over the last 10 years. Arguably it began with acknowledging the need to adapt spa treatments for women during pregnancy, and more recently it's moved into the oncology space. Where once people were turned away from spa treatments if they had a cancer diagnosis, then treatments were specifically for cancer patients. Now expert trainers have given therapists the tools to adapt spa treatments for cancer patients, broadening the scope for wellbeing at a challenging time.

That approach has been rolled out across the spa industry in lots of different ways and to various degrees, and it continues to evolve. Perhaps you have sensitive skin, perhaps you want a massage that relaxes or instead one that energises - whatever personalisation means, it's an increasing element of spa experiences, and from that I think we can learn a lot.

Yes, stress affects us all, but each of us has our own experience of it. So, this Stress Awareness Month, I hope some of the information we share gives you a handbook of tools to turn to, experiences to try and practices to enjoy, so that whatever your experience of stress, you can also have a happy, healthy experience of stress management as well.

Feeling stressed? Book your next spa break

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