Pampering, relaxation just the start of the benefits a spa visit can bring.

I don’t know what it is about life in general, but as Americans we are somehow always running at Mach 5 with our hair on fire all day, every day. Careers, kids, soccer practice, cooking, cleaning, errand running, volunteering, it’s constantly go, go, go! Our fast-paced lifestyles seem to be catching up with us, with many of us feeling unhealthy, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and also eating poorly and not getting enough exercise.

Learning to slow down for the greater good of our sanity and our health is a great idea, but it’s often hard to figure out where to start. What if there was a place we could go to de-stress, unwind and reap the benefits of improved mental and physical health? Well, there is, in fact there are many.

Let’s talk Spa.

Millions of Americans are turning to spas to promote relaxation as a way to improve mental and physical health and well being. Regular visits to a day spa, resort spa or medical spa to help improve one’s health is on the rise, with a variety of services available to help you look and feel better. Massages, facials, body treatments, hydrotherapy treatments, manicures, pedicures, even spending time in the steam room, hot tub or sauna, can be beneficial to your health.

Here are some of the benefits of spa treatments that may ultimately help to improve your health both physically and mentally.

Stress reduction
High levels of daily stress keeps the body in a constant state of “fight or flight” a built-in mechanism that back in prehistoric days helped us survive while being chased down by a saber tooth tiger. You had to either fight or run away in order to survive. Although our stresses are obviously different today, our body’s response to stress is no different. This ongoing activation of our stress response system can, over time, lead to heart disease, digestive issues, depression, obesity, memory impairment and even flair ups of skin conditions, such as acne and eczema. With regular
visits to a spa, you can help reduce the negative effects of stress and help turn off this fight or flight response, and bring your body’s nervous system back into balance.

More restful sleep
As an esthetician, I’ve had clients fall asleep literally the minute they hit the facial bed. Sometimes all it takes is a soothing, quiet environment to relax enough to give in and fall asleep. Whatever your favorite spa service may be, a little down time can remind your body actually how to relax, so in the evening at bedtime you may fall asleep easier, stay asleep and get a more restful sleep. When is the last time you got your full eight hours?

Lower blood pressure
The power of touch is an amazing thing. A therapist’s hands can be soothing, caring and nurturing; enough so that they may notably lower your blood pressure. The calming effect of a massage or facial can have enough of an effect on your body both mentally and physically that your blood pressure may be reduced. Though a relaxing spa service is no substation for necessary prescribed medications and a heart-healthy lifestyle, lowering blood pressure can still be a very positive side effect of any spa treatment.

Pain relief
Joint pain, muscle soreness, headaches and fatigue can all be addressed with various massage techniques at most spas. Anything from deep tissue massage to relaxation or pressure point massage can help reduce many types of pain. Something to remember: A massage appointment at a spa is not the only service that provides an actual massage. During a facial, the esthetician will massage not only the face, but often times also use touch therapy techniques on the neck, shoulders, décolleté, arms and hands. The same goes for manicures and pedicures. During a pedicure, for example, nail technicians will work on the feet and lower legs, and some are even trained in reflexology, a technique to relieve pain in all parts of the body by massaging the feet.

The skin is one of the largest waste removal systems of the body. Waste and toxins are removed via perspiration, so a session in the sauna, steam room or hot tub at the spa encourages body detoxification. On the spa menu you may also find body detox wraps and baths, all using products and heat to draw out impurities from the body. Massage is another way to detox. As the muscles are stimulated during the massage an often-sluggish lymph system will wake up, and begin picking up toxins from the body once again, transporting them to the liver and kidneys for eventual elimination.

Improved digestion
Stress and poor eating habits can contribute to a very upset digestive system. Stress can also lead to an imbalance in the “good” bacteria that lives in our digestive tract and aids in digestion, causing any number of digestive challenges. Relaxation, massage and a reduction in stress hormones as a result of regular spa treatments may just be what the doctor ordered to help keep things functioning properly.

Muscle tone
Many spa services can reduce water retention and toxins in the body, and give the appearance of a firmer, more toned body. Even though results are temporary, slimming body wraps truly do work. I have performed many slimming body wrap treatments, and always take before and after measurements. Although the inches lost will vary, the number of inches lost can still be remarkable. Microcurrent, a device used during a facial that utilizes an electrical current to promote muscle contraction, is another service that will increase muscle tone. A series of microcurrent facials will firm and tighten the underlying muscles of the face, giving a tighter, more toned look to the skin, an overall lift and more youthful appearance to the face.

Mood Enhancement
I’ve seen many a client come racing in for their facial appointment after battling traffic and parking on the way in, causing them to be both late and frustrated. I’ve also challenged myself to make a difference in that client’s day, turning their day around with an amazing and relaxing facial. I’ve witnessed complete transformations in mood and stress levels from the start of the treatment to the finish. In Korea it is very common for people to stop in at a spa on the way home from a stressful day of work and unwind before heading home. They may not even receive a service; they may just lay in a warm relaxation room or infrared sauna to relax after a tough day. We as Americans often use the gym for the same effect, but the atmosphere isn’t quite as calm and soothing. (At least not at the gyms I’ve been going to!)

Time to treat yourself to a spa visit or two? Don’t let the cost be a deterrent; consider it an investment in your health, both mentally and physically. Relax and enjoy; I’m quite certain you deserve it!

"Relaxation, massage and a reduction in stress hormones as a result of regular spa treatments may just be what the doctor ordered to help keep things functioning properly."