One of my favourite gifts, to give and receive, is a spa day – time spent in beautiful surroundings where you can enjoy a number of beauty treatments, swim, take an exercise class or just chill in a relaxing room with calming music and a herbal tea or two. But have you ever considered the health benefits of going to a spa? It’s not just that a day’s pampering is good for the soul.
Spa therapy has been popular since Roman times where, typically, water-based therapies were used for physical and spiritual healing. Today you can find all sorts of spa therapies – deep tissue and hot stone massage, facials and all kinds of beauty and body treatments.
Here are some of the benefits of spa treatments you might not have considered for your health, both physical and mental – and why spa days make such great gifts. Spas are so popular now that there is sure to be one near to you – whether you are looking for spa days in Yorkshire or the wilds of Wales where I live, there are plenty to choose from.
Why a spa treatment is important for your health
Everyone has their favourite on the list of spa treatments but many of them offer health benefits that can last long after you’ve gone home.
Massage – helps with depression, anxiety and stress
Massage helps to lower the levels of your body’s stress hormone – cortisol. We know that stress, particularly prolonged stress, can take a huge toll on our overall health. Even if you aren’t suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, a good massage releases tension and can make you feel more grounded again.
Whilst you can practise simple massage techniques at home, I prefer to trust my body to a qualified masseur who understands anatomy and is able to adapt their techniques according to any health issues you may have. (‘Knots’ in your shoulders, anyone?).
The massage oil you use can be important too. Some essential oils such as ylang-ylang, clary sage, sandalwood, and bergamot have been proven to decrease symptoms of stress and an aromatherapy massage is one of my favourite types of treatment.
After so long spent in Lockdown, I am sure many of us are missing the soothing power of human touch so the thought of a massage is even more appealing!
Spa treatments boost your confidence
Spa treatments can help improve self-confidence because you are spending time thinking about and looking at your body and taking active steps to improve it. How many of us really have the time to look at ourselves properly other than a quick application of makeup or shave in the morning?
At a spa you can have body treatments to exfoliate and nourish your skin or mud wraps to ease sore, tense muscles. And if like me you are hopeless with fake tan, a spray tan is a quick and easy way to remember summer in the dark autumn days. Particularly if you did not have a holiday this summer and were grounded in the UK.
Spa treatments can inspire you to improve your self care
Massage, in particular, can give you an increase in dopamine and serotonin that will encourage you to keep up or even start a better self-care regimen.
You might find an exercise class you’ve never tried before that you really love or discover new takes on low cal, healthy dishes that excite your tastebuds far more than a rushed cheese sarnie at lunchtime.
You might be inspired to create your own “relaxation room” or change the music you habitually listen to so that you start or end your day with beautiful calming sounds. Classes in meditation and mindfulness can give you skills you’ll benefit from forever.
Spa days are a great opportunity to talk
Not only have we been deprived of vital human touch this year, but most of us have also been reduced to communicating via Zoom or social media – neither of which are particularly bonding experiences.
There is nothing like taking a special friend with you and spending the time between treatments having a laugh, a giggle, sharing problems and exchanging confidences in between treatments and a dip in the pool.
It’s far easier to open up when you are out of your normal environment and unlikely to be disturbed.
To conclude, while spas are spaces where you can relax both body and mind, spa treatments can offer healing – mental, physical and spiritual and help promote a healthy lifestyle.
I can’t wait for my next spa day. Investing in health and relaxation is a great way to treat yourself.