The terms wellness, wellbeing and health are chronically overused when it comes to talking about products, services and lifestyles. However, in the last 18 months we have all had something of a crash course in how we think about a healthy lifestyle and its implications.
In the UK, we (broadly) tend to think of spas as luxury destinations, and in many instances they are. In Europe however, the concept of a spa is much more heavily intertwined with health check ups and taking care of our overall wellbeing. So can spas really make a difference to helping us maintain a healthy lifestyle?
The reality of this question is that it can be discussed in many ways and from many different perspectives – some of which are more controversial than others. However, if we take some of the core elements of holistic wellbeing practices: spa treatments, nutrition, exercise and relaxation – is it more than luxury?
Spas can be home to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. While some focus more on beauty treatments (which are also important), others focus on a range of other expertise that can play a significant role in long term health.
For example, nutritional advice can be a powerful tool in supporting the body generally as well as during times of difficulty, such as menopause or cancer treatment. You must always make sure whoever is giving you advice is qualified to do so. Nonetheless, select health spas have some extremely highly qualified individuals who can offer specific or general advice.
We know that spa treatments like massage can have an impact on our wellbeing ranging from feel good factor to relaxation – releasing endorphins, getting out of our heads and into our bodies, and remembering the extremely nurturing power of a kind touch. However, it’s easy to dismiss some of those consequences of spa treatments as nice to haves rather than need to haves.
We all face our own daily challenges, and sometimes those are more serious or obvious than others. Over the years, much work has been done to open up the spa industry and make it accessible to individuals going through serious health issues like cancer. In a recent article for Jennifer Young, industry leader, Sue Harmsworth, highlighted:
“I work with a lot of doctors who feel that the global public health budgets will not support the issues that are emerging. As an industry, we need to find ways we can be there – there’s more and more data to support that idea. It’s difficult as spas are perceived to be a luxury, so we need a way to make it more accessible for dealing with these lifestyle issues.”
We don’t need an expert to tell us that exercise is good for us. However, we don’t always have the right environment to motivate us to take up new habits or to learn techniques that we can continue at home. Luxury doesn’t have to mean that something isn’t good for you, and heading to a beautiful environment with inspiring grounds can be the perfect setting to starting a new routine or feeling motivated to broaden our workout horizons.
Perhaps one of the most significant health benefits of going to a spa is that those with a variety of services available provide a network of support that you can access as you need it. No individual is an expert in all areas, but by speaking to people where you feel supported, learning and having an opportunity to try things, the spa industry offers a space where we can learn about wellbeing, enjoy it and hopefully support mind and body in the long-term.
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