Just the word “spa” sends special little shivers down my spine and inspires a deep breath that starts in the souls of my feet. Over the years, I’ve relished every pedicure, every massage, each wonderful facial, and even manicures and eyebrow waxing are tolerable as long as I’m in a relaxing setting with aroma therapeutic scents and soothing music playing.
Bodywork is always my favorite and first choice for spa treatments because it does as much good for mental health as it does for physical health. In fact, researchers all over the world have discovered the various ways hands-on therapy reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression for all kinds of illness, work-related stress, bereavement, fatigue, and withdrawal symptoms of drug abuse and alcoholism. It would appear that most issues can be at least somewhat eased by bodywork.
Think of it as a mini-vacation for the senses, no major travel required. Our culture begs us to tend to our stress, anxiety, depression and overall negativity by tending to ourselves. Luckily, it also provides ways to do just that, and statistics show that many of us are doing it.
WebMD reports that going to the spa can help us cope with stress, and according to a 2006 survey conducted by the International Spa Association (ISPA), one-quarter of all American adults, which means about 57 million people, plus 4 million teens, have had at least one visit to a spa.
The last time I spent an entire day at a spa, I was working there as a massage therapist, and it wasn’t just for one day. There were many days that required me to be as perky and pleasant, yet professional and calming as possible so my clients could leave their anxiety and stress at the door and bask in the glow of luxurious attention.
Of course, I never knew when a crisis from outside of our precious walls would interfere with my client’s relaxation-in-progress, but if all went well, I was fortunate enough to give the gift of chill-axation. I didn’t mind because I loved it just as much when I was on the table, and therefore knew how to make the experience as nurturing as it could be.
Having that kind of wholesome power over someone was good for my self-esteem. However, it didn’t come without consequence. My own body was taxed no matter how much massage I received, to the point where I eventually had to give up my practice altogether. The good news is I have enough material to write something called “Confessions of a Bodyworker.” Until then, I take each hour of spa time as it comes.