Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first time spa goer, the benefits of a spa break are not just those that you have in the moment – they can be wide reaching for our health and wellbeing. Here, Abi Selby, Founder of Spabreaks.com, explains what spas have taught her about wellness, with nearly 20 years in the industry…
I am a pretty busy person. I don’t just mean that in the sense of having a lot to do, but that even if I don’t have a lot to do, I will find things. That said, even on quiet days the house is busy, so despite the world in which I work, I have not always been great at making time for my own health. Thankfully, I am surrounded by an industry and people who have been able to show me ways of incorporating self care into my life.
In context, I am a working mum with three children. My husband works overseas a lot, and we also have two dogs at home – one of which is a young puppy, with all the joys and challenges that brings. I am extremely blessed that life is so full, but I need to be well and still enough sometimes to enjoy it all, and it’s easy for time to go by without acknowledging that.
When we think about spas we tend to focus on the individual benefits of a particular treatment or experience. However, what I have learned over time is that while your hot stone massage will have different benefits to the aromatherapy variety, there are some wider benefits that all spa experiences offer in their own ways, and they are so valuable for our physical and mental health.
“Spas have not only taught me the value of visiting them in their own right, but they also inspire me afresh every time I make space for them, allowing me to learn a little more about myself, and take a little more joy from everyday life as well.”
I think the biggest thing that spas have taught me is the value of getting out of my own head and back into my body for a bit. We all think of spas as places that are about massages and swimming pools and steam rooms, and they are. However, what all those things allow us to do is take a deep breath and be in the moment.
Those processes allow us to take a break from all the planning, the worrying, the projecting and the thinking and focus on the here and now; how that knot in your shoulder has eased, how your breathing feels – discover what that body, that has been working like the clappers to carry you through the world, really needs. There is something intensely peaceful about bringing everything back down to this moment, this feeling and being aware of every fibre of your being.
One of the main reasons spa treatments are so powerful is because of the very real healing powers of human touch. Just think of how much better you feel after a good hug. That kind and physical connection is incredibly important for our wellbeing, especially for those of us who feel stressed (which is most people) or anyone who has been running on empty, it’s easy to forget just how restorative touch can be. A facial, a massage, reflexology – it’s not just beneficial because of the specific movements that the therapist uses, but because of the human contact.
At Spabreaks.com we have had a number of spa guests with very serious illnesses, such as cancer, comment on the healing impact of touch. For example, Dorothy, who visited Rockliffe Hall following treatment for breast cancer, said:
“My body seemed not to be my own but simply something that had things done to it which were consistently unpleasant and painful… so imagine my delight at the thought of staying in a five star hotel where I could be the old me, the me who could enjoy the pleasures of a beautiful hotel and beauty treatments, the me who was like everyone else.”
I think sometimes the best thing to clear our heads is a change of environment. Naturally, spas are designed to be beautiful, tranquil and even inspiring. However much we may like our everyday environments, sometimes a change of scenery can really make a difference to our perspective on the world.
Many spas also have incredible outdoor spaces as well, either in terms of alfresco spa facilities or grounds to walk in. Personally I have always found that my best thinking time is done outside on a good walk, but whether it’s swimming in the pool or looking out at an inspiring view over afternoon tea, a change of environment can work wonders for your head.
I think one of the big things that people forget about going to a spa is the inspiration it can give for little ways to incorporate wellbeing into everyday life. We’re all under a lot of pressure to add more to our various to do lists and that has always struck me as somewhat unsustainable. However, spas are amazing places to get ideas on really little things that can make a big difference.
Depending on where you go, spas are filled with therapists and experts who have the most incredible amount of knowledge to impart. Talk to Sue Davis, naturopath at Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, or Stephanie Moore, Clinical Nutritionist at Grayshott Health Spa, for example. They will be able to give you the most incredible thoughts on small things to swap in or out of your diet to essential oils that you can pop on a tissue to help sooth your mood at any time of the day.
Overall, while a spa break itself tends to be something we do either occasionally or at semi regular intervals, the takeaways from them can be long lasting for our health and wellbeing. For me, spas have not only taught me the value of visiting them in their own right, but they also inspire me afresh every time I make space for them, allowing me to learn a little more about myself, and take a little more joy from everyday life as well.
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