Stress happens when you react to an emergency situation (picture yourself, just weeks before the holidays, gifts left to buy and wrap, decorating to finish, holiday meals to plan, activities to attend…) and your body releases cortisol and other hormones, such as adrenaline into your bloodstream. These hormones make your heart beat faster and prepare your body to respond to danger (or unrealistic holiday expectations, which can also be hazardous to your health and sanity). Sometimes, a little stress is good: it makes us achieve what we want, meet deadlines, and work the occasional miracle. But too much stress, for too long, can do some serious damage. Stress raises our blood pressure, causes us to lose sleep at night, over indulge on food and alcohol, and lose concentration, to say nothing of our deteriorating mood.
Find yourself hoping for a spa get-away in your Christmas stocking? Why not treat yourself to a spa day when holiday stress starts to take its toll and go from distress to de-stress in no time.
Ways stress affects the body
The stress hormones produce instant changes:
• Heart rate increases
• Blood flowing to your brain and your muscles speeds up
• The digestion process stops so your body can maximize your energy
• Muscles become tense
• Breathing speeds up to enable an increase in oxygen.
“It is incredibly important, with today’s culture of hectic work schedules and the stresses of everyday life, to genuinely take care of ourselves. The unique culture of spa and wellbeing help us to take time out and rejuvenate. Spas are where “magic” happens; this is where one’s mind, body and soul receives nurturing and tranquility. The Alluvian Spa prides itself on being a place to stop, relax and retreat from it all.” ~ Kelly Castle, Director of The Alluvian Spa, Greenwood, MS
With that kind of pressure on your body, it’s easy to see why some studies say that 80% of illnesses are stress-related, from issues with digestion to aches, pains and muscle problems. Stress hormones give our bodies a “fight or flight” response. This is great when you’re on the run from a sabre-toothed tiger, not so helpful when you are juggling work, family, financial and holiday responsibilities all at the same time.
Therapies to Reduce Stress
Massage: the calming effect of the human touch. Many studies confirm that the human touch releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps to counteract the stress hormones.
There are endless varieties of massage – from deep-tissue to Thai massage. The important thing is that you’re relaxed and de-stressed at the end. Find out what your local spa offers and decide what you want. Massage is such a personal treatment, it has to be your choice. New to massage? Try a straightforward full-body massage; you can decide how much pressure your tense muscles can bear.
Thermotherapy: easing aches and anxieties with heat. Stressed muscles and tense bodies respond well to being warmed. So, to aid your relaxation, incorporate heat into your spa experience. Visit a spa that offers thermal experiences, such as a steam room or a sauna. When your body temperature rises, which it does when you experience heat, your body is “fooled” into thinking it has a fever and increases the production of white blood cells, which boost your immune system.
Steam rooms have also been found to be good for your mental health, as they reduce your levels of adrenaline and increase endorphins – nature’s “happy” hormones. Take at least half an hour to warm up before having a massage to enjoy extra relaxing benefits. You might also try a rhassoul treatment, which combines thermal mud with beneficial scented steam for a relaxing treat.
Traditional holistic therapies: balancing body, mind and spirit. Therapies such as shiatsu, ayurvedic massage, acupuncture and reflexology are rooted in ancient traditions. Healing therapies from Asia take a holistic approach to healing; that is, they aim to treat the whole person – their body, mind and spirit – not just treat an individual symptom.
Aromatherapy: scent that makes sense. Combine your treatment with aromatherapy to maximize your de-stress potential. Studies have shown that the scents of lavender and rosemary can decrease the stress hormone, cortisol.
Other relaxing and rejuvenating therapies: Depending on your spa of choice, there are a multitude of other services that can help you emerge from your spa day a new person. Consider facials, body wraps, body scrubs and polishes, manicures and pedicures, therapeutic baths, and so much more.
“We have many services that are popular, but the most popular would be our massages or our facials. However, for those who don’t have much time or money, even something as little as having your eyebrows expertly shaped is a relaxing treat at the Red Lily Spa. Our menu is designed to welcome all clients, whether it be a fifteen minute service or a two hour service. As for the ‘creme de la creme’ of spa services, I love our Tropical Oasis Body Treatment. The treatment, which is over an hour, is both firming and brightening. This delightful tropical body wrap counteracts aging, evens skin tone, and delivers invigorating and toning benefits.” ~ Emma Bains, Owner/Esthetician. Red Lily Spa Naturelle, Ocean Springs, MS
“A relaxing facial is very important to keep in your skin care regimen, especially during times of stress. Our facials are designed to help you relax and to release tension in your head, face, neck and shoulders while also giving you a good deep cleanse and a warm healthy glow.” ~ Mallory Dean, Medical Spa Manager, Body Anew Medical Spa, Ridgeland, MS
Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a relaxing, de-stressing spa experience that will give you a new perspective on your holiday “to do” list, recharge your energy level and calm your seasonal anxiety.
Body Anew Medical Spa is located at 113 West Jackson Street, Suite 1-A in Ridgeland, MS. For information or to schedule an appointment call 601-605-0452 or visit www.bodyanewmedicalspa.com.
Red Lily Spa Naturelle is located at 1202 Government Street, Unit B, in Ocean Springs, MS. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 228-215-1923 or visit www.redlilyspa.com.
The Alluvian Spa is located at 3225D Howard Street in Greenwood, MS. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 662-451-6700, 866-728-6700 toll free, or visit www.thealluvian.com.