Ah a spa day, one of the rare things that is a treat and is actually good for you! What was once seen as an ultimate indulgence for a few has become a popular way to chill out with friends, celebrate a special event or just get some precious time to yourself.
So whether you’re a spa veteran or a newbie it's important that you get most out of the precious time you've made for yourself. I've worked in many spas over the years and here are some of the tips I've learnt that will ensure you make the most of your spa day and enjoy the benefits.
1. Give yourself time
The most common feedback I'd get from guests when they leave is they wish they gave themselves more time. Plan how much time you need, then double it! I'd recommend arriving at least ninety minutes to an hour before your first treatment but if you can arrive even earlier, do it! From filling out your questionnaire to touring the spa, getting changed, having a shower, it always takes longer than you'd expect. There's nothing worse than rushing for a treatment, it impacts the whole experience.
2. Use the facilites
Depending on your treatments and the facilities in the spa, it's always beneficial to use them before your treatments.
- If the spa has a pool, begin with a swim, even a few minutes swimming helps to stretch out and loosen the muscles.
Then use the heat experiences in a hot to cold, warm to cool sequence.
- Start with the steam or sauna for ten minutes, this warms up the muscles which assists your therapist in working out those knots during a massage. It also opens up your pores and helps your body start to get rid of the lovely toxins. If you prefer the steam over the sauna or vice a versa. That’s fine there isn't a huge difference between them in terms of health benefits. Steam is good if you have respiratory and or sinus problems as it helps to clear out the pathways especially if eucalyptus oil is used. The heat in the sauna generally doesn't feel as intense. Ten to fifteen minutes in each and then repeated with a break is the maximum you should use it. Too much intense heat can raise your blood pressure and have unpleasant side effects, like feeling dizzy.
- Be brave for a moment and use the ice fountain. Working the crushed ice from the bottom of your legs, up towards your heart, finishing with ice on the back of the neck or take a cold shower for as long as you can stand. This alternating between hot and cold helps improve your circulation and gives your metabolism a kick. Repeat again (you should have time 🙂 )
- Chill in a jacuzzi or heated pool if available. Otherwise, take a warm shower and then follow it with a cool shower. This helps to bring your body temperature back down leaving you relaxed and ready for your treatment.
Make sure you've dried yourself off before putting your robe on, you don't want to be putting on a wet robe after your treatment!
3. Book your treatments together
If you can, book your treatments one after the other with the same therapist. The first five minutes of the treatment should be a consultation to go through your questionnaire, highlight any medical issues and areas of concern. Your therapist will then go through the treatment and explain what you are to do. This all takes time and if you can have your treatments back to back with the same therapist, you gain extra time, that would have been spent going through your consultation again. And every minute counts!
4.Talk to your therapist
Tell them your areas of concern, what is giving you problems, what do you want to improve. Be honest when you explain your lifestyle, the stress in your life, your skincare (or lack of) routine. Its ok, they're not there to judge but to help you. They want you to get the best from your treatment. But while therapists can tell a lot about you from performing treatments they are not mind readers. If you're not happy with the pressure of the massage say something, if your feeling too hot or cold, say something!
A good therapist will always check that the pressure is ok at least twice during an hour massage, but don't wait for them to ask, speak up and let them know. Sounds so simple but it's the most common complaint from guests that the pressure wasn't strong enough, or they were too hot/cold. Most of the time its because the guests never say anything to the therapist. Remember this is your time, it's precious and your paying for it.
5. Listen to your therapist
Your therapist will see your body in a way you never will. They can see (and feel) where you hold your tension and how stressed you may be. A good massage therapist will be able to work their way into the muscles and find knots you didn’t even know existed, but it sure feels good when they're worked out!
A facial is a perfect time to get advice about what products to use. Maybe you think you have really oily skin and use a deep cleanser. While a therapist can see you have combination skin and the intense washing is causing your skin to produce more oil. Never feel under pressure to buy the products but you will end up with something much more suitable than you'd buy yourself after standing in the skincare aisle in Boots!
6.Drink all the water!
All this relaxing is hard work! Using the heat treatments means your losing water by perspiration, this needs to be replaced so have a glass of water after each heat session. Drinking extra water also helps continue the detoxification processes that the heat treatments started. After your massage, it's essential to drink water as lactic acid is produced while working the muscles. So if you don't want to be stiff the next day, drink a few glasses of water directly after your massage and continue to sip throughout the day.
7. Give yourself more time & use the facilities again
These days doing absolutely nothing is a luxury few of us give ourselves, especially without feeling guilty. So put your feet up, have a nap, read a magazine you wouldn't normally buy and delight in the pure indulgence of doing nothing for as long as you can.
Depending on what treatments you had, you can use the facilities again. If you've had a deep tissue massage it's actually very beneficial to go use the steam or sauna again after your treatment as your muscles have had an intense workout and the heat helps prevent them stiffening up. Or if you've had a facial, I generally don't recommend going back into the heat as all the oils and creams are still being soaked into your skin. And if you've had a nail paint, no going back into the heat or water as it stops the polish from setting properly unless you have gotten a gel paint like shellac.
8. Bring the spa home with you
Scent evokes memories so find out what oils or candles the spa is using. If you think they're too expensive to buy, you can purchase the same essential oils at your local health food store and recreate the smell yourself. This will bring your mind back to how you felt during your spa visit and help you feel like that again wherever you are.
9. Book your next visit
For the spa veterans how many times have said to yourself, I mustn't leave it as long until my next visit and then the time flies by again? For spa newbies, I hope that you loved the experience so much you can't wait to do it again! Before you leave, plan your next visit, it could be a month, 6 months, a year (hopefully not that long) but you'll have something in your diary to look forward too and you can always change the date.
10. Plan to do nothing afterwards
This is more of a personal thing as I'm generally so chilled after a spa day nothing coming out of my mouth makes sense so going to dinner or meeting up with friends never works. The only thing I'm good for is the sofa followed by an early night.
If you can have someone pick you up and or make dinner, look after the kids, any responsibilities in general and you'll be able to continue your relaxation till real life kicks in.
Remember a day at the spa is an investment in you, it's your time and you deserve it!
Let me know what your favourite part of your spa day is! Have these tips helped? Comment below!
Disclaimer: This is a guideline and you should always consult your doctor first if you have been unwell or have contraindications as identified by your chosen spa. Your spa will be able to advise you on the treatments and facilities that are suitable for you. Every spa is different and not all of these recommendations may be applicable.
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