As a physician assistant, I’m a big fan of wellness. I try to teach wellness in my church and promote it to my family and friends. The state of wellness is in my opinion very important for your body. Wellness improves your mind as well as your spirit. It reduces stress which is a known contributor to multiple issues e.g weight gain, overeating and poor sleep just to name a few.
Wellness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”. Yoga, for example, promotes wellness because it brings focus. Exercise along with healthy eating promotes wellness.
My wellness outlet is going to a spa. In fact this past weekend, I just returned from Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury, NY. This was part of my annual spa getaway weekend with my mother and grandmother. For the past two years we went to the Spa at Forrestal in the Princeton Marriott in Princeton, NJ. It took a long time to convince myself and then my mom the idea of getting a massage and (gasp!) a facial. My grandmother, the bad ass that she is, was always into pampering herself.
While in college and living off of Taco Bell and Cup of Noodles, I remembered hearing about my colleagues going to get a massage and how enjoyable it was. I was concerned because I thought it was just too expensive ($120 and up? What??!!) Also I didn’t think I knew how I felt about some stranger touching my body. When I worked a Harlem Hospital, an administrator told me she went to get a massage at least once a week and it was necessary for her peace of mind. I was intrigued. I wanted to treat myself as well. I was working like a dog and feeling like after a week I hadn’t done a damn thing to make myself feel better. Plus, I was getting paid!! Long were the days of the struggling college student. I was a full-fledged Physician Assistant. It was time to do me.
Massage Therapy has shown to be beneficial for anxiety, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion, headaches and insomnia. I tend to carry my stress in my shoulders and because of that I usually suffer neck and upper back pain. In addition, I have plantar fasciitis in both of my feet (not sure what this is, read about it here ). Having a massage forces me to relax and clear my head. I just let everything that bothers me roll off my shoulders. My pain is much improved and my stress is reduced.
Facials are part of my wellness treatment as well. Massaging the face helps to promote blood flow as well as drain lymphatics. Most aestheticians, use cleansing and moisturizing treatments to open pores and get deep cleansing of the skin. Facials have been known to decrease the signs of aging and overall improve the health of your skin.
Most people shy away from going to a spa because of expense. There are a variety of spas available that offer specials and reduced pricing especially around special moments like Mother’s & Father’s day as well as holiday specials. Girl’s weekend getaway are golden times to snatch a great deal. When searching for spa deals, Living Social and Groupon have great deals. I found many spas via both. If you are into traveling, try a massage abroad. Getting a Thai massage in THAILAND is not only amazing but economical as massages can be as little as $8.
Here are my suggestions for local spas in the New York City Area:
- Tai Chi Daing Spa, 76-16 Woodside Avenue, Elmhurst, NY 11373, best massage deal ever!! $40 for 1 hr massage and includes hot stone
- Laura’s Beauty Touch, 97-20 66th Ave, Rego Park, NY 11374 – prefer the facials here and has deals on Groupon
- Origo Spa, 49 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013, unassuming hidden gem, excellent facial and massage
Beyond NYC, here are a couple of suggestions:
- The Spa at Forrestal at Princeton Marriott, 100 College Rd E, Princeton, NJ 0854
- Viana Hotel and Spa, 3998 Brush Hollow Rd, Westbury, NY 11590
- Minerals Resort and Spa, 1 Stonehill Dr, Vernon Township, NJ 07462
- Elements Spa, Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountain, 1 Great Wolf Dr, Scotrun, PA 18355
- Element 5 Day Spa, 1 Market Square, Saint John, NB E2L 4Z6, Canada
If you are new to massage or haven’t had a massage in a while, be aware that you may have muscle pain. This is normal and resolves in a couple of days to 2 weeks.
SPA AT HOME
If for any reason you are not able to get a massage, consider creating a spa at home. Aromatherapy is an awesome method of creating a spa environment in the home. Natural oils like lavender, lemongrass, lemon, eucalyuptus are wonderful to relax and heal. Here of some of the properties of the oils above:
- Lavender: reduce anxiety and stress, treat insomnia, anti-inflammatory, soothes dry irritated skin, hair growth
- Lemongrass: elevates mood, boosts immune system, relieves anxiety, stimulates the nerves
- Lemon: brightens skin, relieves stress, reduces insomnia, aids in weight loss, assists in digestion and reduces acid reflux
- Eucalyptus: improves breathing, reduce stress, relieves muscle pain and soreness
These oils in addition to rosemary and peppermint are great for use in burning as candles, oil diffusers. Oils can be mixed together to create a wonderful atmosphere of relaxation.
Hand in hand with aromatherapy is meditation. Meditation allows calming of our mind and elevation of our mood. To meditate in you house, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable chair and make sure your back is straight. Take 10 minutes and close your eyes. Play soothing music if needed and take 10 deep breaths through your nose and release air through your mouth. Allow yourself to drift away in the quiet. Do this as often as needed to achieve relaxation and reduce stress.
In lieu of facials, consider finding a great regimen of cleansing, toning and moisturizing your skin. In addition, treat yourself to a masque and deep cleansing once a week. When applying your cleansing product and/or deep cleaner/scrub, it’s important to apply the product to your face in a circular motion. As stated previously, this increases blood flow and gently removes dead cells. There are many products out there to try, however I like Origins brand. There is a great deal of trial and error to find products you prefer and that work well for you.
With any products there is always a chance of allergic reaction so be careful of your choices in oils and facial products.
Where are your favorite places to get a massage and/or facial? Has having a massage helped you?
- Mayo Clinic, Stress Management, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743
- Organic Facts, https://www.organicfacts.net/