If you are seriously stressed, it would be wise to take a step back and make some changes in your life before you hit burnout. Taking time out for a spa day isn’t going to solve everything, but it’s a good start – especially if you feel you don’t have time to take a holiday, or you find it hard to switch off. It could even be a life-saver.
How do you know when you’re stressed?
We all stress in different ways, but there are some obvious signs – see mind.org.uk or nhs.uk for a complete run-down. Here are a few obvious symptoms: you may have one or two, or the whole shebang… and more besides.
Do you feel...
Do you have...
Headaches or dizziness?
Drinking and smoking
Over or undereating
Snapping at people
“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it” – Hans Selye
If you know what is stressing you out, ask yourself: Can I control it? If the answer is yes, work out what you need to do. If the answer is no, then work towards accepting the situation and being kinder to yourself. Read our feature on stress. If you don’t mind swearing, read Calm the F**k Down (A No F*cks Given Guide) for inspiration on letting go.
What type of spa?
You probably don’t want a popular spa with lots of themed heat facilities set over many floors, the less going on the better. Choose a small or exclusive spa. Phone up beforehand and ask their busiest times. As a general rule, weekends are usually a bad idea but weekday mornings or evening twilight spa sessions are less busy.
Make sure you get to the spa in plenty of time so you can park, have a drink and unwind on arrival.
Try a digital detox, leave your phone in the locker and take a good book instead.
Pre-book a yoga or meditation class as part of your spa day, but don’t give yourself too much to do. You don’t want to stress out about missing your de-stressing treatment.
Try forest bathing. As our feature on forest bathing explains, being in nature and especially among trees has been shown to reduce stress. Even gazing at natural scenery can be calming, so if your spa has a hot tub with a view, make the most of it. If your spa has grounds for walking, do this at the end of your spa day – but do it mindfully.
Lifehouse Spa is surrounded by peaceful, award-winning gardens and has a wellness team on hand to look after you. It’s not far outside London, and if you are time poor, you can book a one-night de-stress break. Arrive in the afternoon and enjoy the spa and gardens as well as a wellness session, a calming massage, a 50-minute healing treatment and a three-course dinner. Book an extra one-hour personal meditation session for £40.
This lovely modern spa is surrounded by tranquil gardens and countryside. The Wellness Suite offers complementary therapies with Bamford products as well as one-to-one yoga and Pilates sessions. There is a lap pool, hot tub and outdoor natural pool, three relaxation rooms, as well as outdoor loungers with blankets, hot water bottles and hand knitted slippers to cosy up in all year round. Book the Wellness Retreat, staying in a yurt or tree lodge for the ultimate escape, or the Day of Wellness: both include a holistic treatment and the option of a mindful walk through the woodland. They even have a de-stress lunch menu.
Hypno-Reiki is a powerful combination of two methods of de-stressing – hypnosis, which puts you into a state of deep calm, and Reiki energy healing. You will have a consultation first so your therapist can focus on your specific issues – workplace stress, panic attacks, anxiety or a traumatic event such as bereavement or divorce. Proponents say it helps with stress, sleep and emotional issues. Read our Spa Spy review here.
Mindful walking is a form of meditation. If you are walking in nature, as you would be through Mallory Court’s delightful kitchen gardens, you will be encouraged to notice your surroundings while practising deep breathing, mentally slowing down and learning to be present. Elan Spa is set apart from the hotel, overlooking peaceful gardens with spa bedrooms. Collect a mindful walk map from reception and begin your de-stress journey. Many of the spa's ila and ESPA treatments are designed for blissed-out relaxation – we felt utterly de-stressed after our ila Chakra Wellbeing Ritual.
Rudding Park’s impressive spa makes the most of its natural surroundings, with a stunning rooftop spa and nature-inspired healthy menu. You can also combine the stress-reducing effects of forest bathing with a holistic ritual by booking a treatment in the Shepherd’s Hut set in a secluded woodland glade. Book a Dreamtime Journey with hot poultices and a face and scalp massage while listening to real birdsong in the forest outside – our Spa Spy said it stilled her restless mind.