Is Spa A Luxury Or A Necessity? (That is the question)
Do you ever feel guilty about the thought of setting aside a portion of your budget every month for your girly needs such as going to a spa? Do you consider it a luxury that can only be justified during special occasions like Mother’s Day, wedding anniversaries or birthdays? Do you ever tell yourself that it’s just ridiculous and unacceptable to be spending that much money on your personal needs when there are more urgent matters that you could use the money for?
Believe me, I understand where you’re coming from. At one point in the past, I thought the same things too. I used to think that a woman’s grooming needs are limited only to manicure, pedicure and occasional haircuts. Then came the waxing… the massage… the body scrub… foot spa… and facials! As a smorgasbord of pampering treatments burgeoned over the years, so did the personal expense list! If you are single, then it probably doesn’t bother you as much as it does one who’s married and has kids or other dependents.
But spa – as I have learned more about it and have made it a part of my beauty and wellness regimen – is, in my opinion, a necessity and not merely luxury. Especially for us, women. On a daily basis, we engage in activities and deal with issues that cause tremendous amount of stress such as family, kids, husbands (I hear some guys reacting) and work. If we don’t find an effective way to de-stress on a regular basis, we’ll go nuts! We need to make a conscious effort to take care of our bodies – and to do it consistently on a regular basis – if we plan on living a long and healthy life.
I’m writing this post to assure you though that treating yourself to a spa at least once every month (twice a month is ideal… hooray for you if you can afford to do it weekly!) brings more benefits to you that go beyond the superficial. I’m here to help you understand which treatments being offered out there are really essential and why they are so. Everything else is just an extra treat that you may avail of if the budget permits.
SPAmpering Treatments: The Must-Haves
Massage is the manipulation (by way of pressing or rubbing) of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. Based on the word’s origin in French, it means “friction of kneading”. Its Arabic translation means “to touch, feel or handle”. The verb form was also derived from a Greek word which means “to handle, to touch, to work with the hands, or to knead (as with a dough)”. Even though the basic definition implies the use of the hands, massage therapists, or more commonly called masseur (male therapist) or masseuse (female therapist), may also use their elbows and modern methods nowadays even require the use of their feet.
MOST COMMON TYPES OF MASSAGE
- Swedish Massage – uses five styles of long, flowing hand strokes (sliding/gliding, kneading, rhythmic tapping, friction and vibration/shaking)
- Shiatsu Massage – from the Japanese word that means “finger pressure”, it is a type of massage that uses finger and palm pressure, including stretches
- Deep Tissue Massage – a technique that uses slower, more forceful strokes, targeting the deeper layers of muscle and tissue , and is more effective in loosening tighter and tougher knots
- Induces a “relaxation response” – you know you’re in a relaxed state when your heart rate and breathing slows down (which means your blood pressure also goes down), your body’s production of stress hormones decreases, and your muscles loosen up. In this state, your body produces a higher level of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter (a chemical released from nerve cells), well-known to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness; and oxytocin, which is best known as the “love hormone”, mainly due to the role it plays in various human behaviors such as pair bonding and (hold your breath…) orgasm.
- Improves blood circulation – not only will this nourish cells resulting to healthier skin (among others), but it also proves to be highly beneficial to us, women, as it relieves premenstrual aches and other symptoms related to our monthly cycle. It has also been claimed to help people with arthritis and edema.
- Relaxes tight muscles (knots) – “tightness” happens when muscles contract, and as they do, nerves around them get pinched or compressed, causing pain, discomfort, spasms and impaired movement
- Boosts immune system
- Improves posture and flexibility
- Helps eliminate cellulite
A basic facial treatment includes cleansing (steaming, scrubbing, removal of blackheads/whiteheads and pimple pricking in some cases), toning and rehydrating/moisturizing. The steaming part of the cleansing step opens your pores to effectively remove deep seated dirt, and the scrubbing is to get rid of the dead skin. This process also reduces the amount of sebum, or the oily substance that our skin naturally secretes for lubrication. Aside from genetic factors, acne is also attributed to an over production of sebum.
Facial treatments may also include head, neck and shoulder massage. This part of the treatment helps reduce headaches and the common neck pains that people who work all day at the office desk suffer from. Facials also help to increase the circulation of blood, resulting in a noticeable glowing skin and rosy cheeks. It also helps improve skin elasticity so that the appearance of wrinkles gradually becomes less noticeable, if not eliminated.
Your feet are the most neglected, abused and exhausted part of your body so a foot spa is a great way to pamper your feet. The process involves soaking the feet in warm water softened by a special kind of bath salt, exfoliating and then moisturizing. Quite obviously, it relaxes tired feet and sends immediate relief from stress and fatigue.
Sauna and Steam Baths
Good news for you, these facilities are free of charge when you go into a spa. So take my advice – DON’T SKIP IT! Spend about 20-30 minutes in the steam room or sauna (or both) before you start the rest of your treatments.
Sauna and steam baths are also called “sweat baths” since they were designed to raise our body temperature in order to induce sweat. Why is a sweat bath an essential part of this whole spa experience? First, let me explain what happens to our body when we sweat. Whatever you call it… anghit, putok, B.O. (body odor), kili kili power – that delivers a one-two punch more deadly than Manny Pacquiao’s blow-blow – is not the only thing you can get from sweating. When our bodies are heated up, either due to the rising temperature in the environment, or to an increase in aerobic activity, we sweat – that, we all know. But why? Why do we sweat? Our body’s natural response to this increase in temperature is to cool down by producing sweat. Now, during this process of sweating, toxins are flushed out from our system. Since not all of us have the luxury of time and money to regularly work out in the gym, not all of us get a chance to really “sweat it out”. So we need the aid of sauna and steam baths.
Sauna expert Dr. Lawrence Wilson wrote in his book Sauna Therapy, “Heating the body several degrees causes greatly increased circulation as the body attempts to maintain its basal temperature. This helps to dislodge toxins, especially hard-to-reach areas such as teeth, bones and sinuses.”
Aside from the flushing out of toxins, other benefits you’ll get from these “sweat baths” are increase in blood circulation resulting to more oxygen and nutrients brought to the skin surface and therefore, improved skin condition. It is also very effective against bronchitis, sinusitis, allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems.
The sauna (usually with wooden interior and benches, uses dry heat between 80°C to 100°C) and steam (ceramic tile interior, uses moist heat no more than 40°C) baths are the most commonly known types of sweat bath, but there is now the infrared sauna which uses infrared heaters and is slightly lower in temperature than the traditional sauna. The infrared sauna may have a deeper tissue cleansing effects because, while the steam and sauna heats the body from the outside, the infrared rays from the infrared sauna penetrates the skin to more than an inch deep so that it heats the body up from the inside. Which one is the best, you ask? It’s all a matter of preference, I’ll say.
Now that we know and understand the physical, physiological and psychological benefits we get from these spa treatments, are the results guaranteed? Well, the physical benefits are almost immediate, and the physiological benefits are presumed but the psychological (and to a certain level, even emotional) effects will depend on YOU – how you prepare your body and mind for the experience.
Keep in mind that you are going to a spa to relax, rejuvenate and de-stress. So prepare yourself by being willing to forget about other people and about your cares, albeit temporarily, for the entire two hours or more that you’re going to spend there. Condition your mind that this time is for YOU – your alone time! I am certain that no one will accuse you of being selfish if you focus on yourself just this time. And why would you even think that anybody would accuse you of being selfish? Even a car requires regular tune-up and maintenance, right? My dog Bailey needs an occasional belly rub. Even Inday needs her day-off once a week!
Conditioning your mind begins with making early reservations. Advance booking not only gives you time to plan your calendar accordingly but also allows you to make room for any unexpected changes in plans without experiencing unnecessary stress. Aim for an early arrival at the spa as well, no less than 30 minutes before your appointment, so that you are not rushing through the process of registration and getting settled, and you’ll be able to give yourself some time to enjoy other facilities.
It will also help you de-stress, I’m sure, if you keep in mind that the therapists there are all professionals and that they are used to seeing naked bodies every single day. So quit being self-conscious and you’ll be on your way to a guaranteed relaxing, rejuvenating and de-stressing spa experience!
Any SPArameters I Need To Follow?
In terms of special clothing and stuff to bring to the spa, there really isn’t any that will be required of you. Towels, gowns, pajamas or sarongs are usually provided for. Men who intend to get a facial treatment are advised to shave before going to the spa.
Lockers will also be provided for all your belongings. Keep your mobile phone in the locker. This will not only be a potential distraction to other people there, but mostly to you since you will most assuredly be tempted to check and send messages, or even make and receive phone calls. So just keep it where you won’t see it!
Also, keep your voice down when speaking to your girlfriends (if you go with them), or to the spa attendants, so as not to disturb the peaceful ambiance.
A spa is an individual experience so although the attendants and therapists know exactly what to do in order to carry out your chosen treatment or package, and they were trained to anticipate your needs, I strongly encourage you to speak up if there is anything that might cause you any discomfort, pain or tension at any time during your treatment.
Freebie Friday #4 – The Spa’s “Refreshing Start” Executive Package
Now, let me point out that a monthly trip to the spa does not have to burn a hole in your pocket. I would encourage you to check out different day spas and compare their rates and try out those whose rates are most affordable to you. Stick to the place where you felt most pampered and that delivered the highest-quality service. An expensive spa isn’t the only way you can achieve this pampering.
How to Win This Fabulous Freebie
Similar procedures will apply but I made a slight change in the order of the steps since my recent site makeover changed how some of my plugins behave (it’s technical and I can’t explain it, haha!). So please take note of the steps that you’ll need to follow in order to qualify for our Freebie Friday this month:
- Comment on this post using the comment box below (that is the most important part this time)
- Hit the Facebook LIKE button and/or the Twitter Retweet button
Without your comment, I can’t count in your entry. Following these two easy steps will officially qualify you to our Freebie Friday for this month of September 2011. One winner (based on the name you used in the comment box below) will be drawn from all eligible entries.
But here is where it gets even more exciting! I’d give away two (yes, TWO!) of this fabulous freebie (making it a package for 2 people) if you get another friend to comment and like/retweet the post, following exactly the same steps described above. If you are entering this contest as a pair/couple, please copy-paste this at the end of your comment: *joining this contest with* and then add your friend’s name. Make sure that the name you mention is the same name that he/she will use when he/she posts his/her own comment. Entiendes?
Both women AND MEN are welcome to join. Woohoo!
Deadline for this is on October 6th at exactly 12 noon EST. I will be announcing the name of the winner on Friday of next week, October 7th.
So what are you waiting for, Ladies and Gentlemen? Comment. Like. Share. Tweet. Isn’t this SPActacular?
**UPDATE** Congratulations to Chalou Ramento for winning our Freebie Friday this month. Chalou, please contact me for details on how you can claim your freebie. Thank you once again for supporting me and MyMy Blog and my monthly Freebie Friday contest. Enjoy your moment of SPAmpering soon! :)
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