Five Ways That Thermal Spas Can Benefit Your Wellbeing
Thermal spa experiences have a long history, dating back to Ancient Roman times. The combination of therapies involving hot and cold treatments are renowned for relieving muscular aches and pains, detoxing skin, improving body metabolism and increasing circulation. They are also linked to improved mental wellness, including better quality sleep and fewer sick days. Thermal spa treatments have been shown to combat stress, reduce anxiety and help people feel more centred. Spa Experience has a number of thermal spa therapies across their UK locations that can improve your wellbeing and enrich your mind, body and soul.
WHY YOU NEED A THERMAL SPA EXPERIENCE
Whether you want to invigorate your body, find some peace of mind or simply a relaxing place to do some soul-searching, the Thermal Spa Experience allows you to refocus on what is important to you. Become more motivated and productive with the knowledge that you are taking care of yourself.
First things first; because many of the thermal spa treatments involve water, you are unable to bring your phone with you. This allows you to unplug from the outside world, fully immersing yourself in the relaxing experience without any external distractions.
Not only can you mentally immerse yourself in the thermal spa, but you can also become physically immersed in one either a Hydrotherapy Pool or a Plunge Pool. Floating in water has a calming effect and allowing yourself the time and space to destress builds your mental strength and improves motivation.
Best facilities: Sweat it out in the sauna before a cleanse in the Monsoon shower.
Before and after: Participate in some other offline activities that focus on yourself. Keeping a journal is known to be a cathartic practice, as releasing your daily stresses in writing lets you process your emotions in a thoughtful environment. Even if you don’t want to keep detailed notes, try writing down one thing you enjoyed about your day or a quality about yourself that you value. You could also invest in a colouring book (or print out some designs) and some high quality pencils to do some adult colouring-in. Activities that occupy your hands in repetitive motions are known to have a calming effect, and colouring-in is simpler than crafts like knitting, embroidery or jewellery making.
Hygge (HOO-gah, rhymes with cougar) is a Danish concept that roughly translates to ‘cosiness’ or ‘closeness’. Hygge embodies the idea of recognizing the joy or meaning in ordinary experiences and embracing the positive mood that comes from the simple act of that recognition. Maybe you’ve had a good meal with people you love, or you’re wrapped in a blanket on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Maybe you’ve just had a thermal spa treatment that has made you calm and content. The pleasant feeling you get from these seemingly inconsequential experiences, and acknowledging the fact that they have made you happy, is the foundation of hygge.
Thermal spa experiences are a quintessential part of Scandinavian life, particularly in Finland; there are over three million saunas in a country of just five million people. That’s approximately one sauna per household. Scandinavia is also consistently ranked as one of the happiest places in the world to live, so the hygge lifestyle definitely has its benefits.
Best facilities: Warm up on the Hammam benches before getting hot in the Turkish Baths.
Before and after: Denmark eats around 10 kilograms of pastries and cakes per person each year and are famous for their simple yet delicious baked treats. Boost your hygge moments with some homemade kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls), risengrød (rice pudding) or a meat and cheese spread accompanied by rugbrød (rye bread). Eat by candlelight to up the hygge factor – Danes burn more candles per person than anywhere else in Europe.
HEAL YOUR BODY
Have you recently overdone it during a workout? Sprained your ankle during a friendly game of football? Or maybe you’ve thrown your back out as you bent down to get the last cupcake out of the fridge? Thermal spa treatments can accelerate the healing process and get you back to peak form in no time.
The combination of heat and cool therapies dilate and contract blood vessels to promote circulation throughout your body; and the better your circulation, the more oxygen and nutrients your blood can deliver to your muscles to repair the damage. This enhanced circulation means that your body can burn through calories at a faster rate, improving your metabolism.
Working up a sweat also flushes impurities from your body, rejuvenating and clearing your skin. Thermal treatments also relieve tension and fight the effect that stress has on your skin. Increased stress makes your body release more cortisol – a hormone that tells your skin to produce more oil – which can result in breakouts. Not only will a Thermal Spa Experience combat and heal problem skin, but it will also help to prevent spots at the root of the cause.
Best facilities: Visit the Hydrotherapy Pool and alternate sessions in the Hot Rooms or Sauna with the Plunge Pool and Ice Fountain.
Before and after: There are several at-home remedies you can use to treat sore muscles in between thermal spa treatments. Invest in a foam roller, try a homeopathic arnica cream and eat foods that are rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, pecans, artichoke and dark chocolate. A healthy diet is also key to clear skin; too much salt makes your body retain water, which can lead to swelling under the eyes, while too much sugar spikes your insulin, which increases sebum production and breaks down the collagen tissue in your skin, leading to acne and wrinkles. Poor nutrition also puts your body under stress, exacerbating skin problems.
But the most important part of maintaining a healthy body is ensuring that you stay hydrated. Water makes up two thirds of our body and is essential to all functions. Dehydration leads to poor digestion, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and increases your risk of muscle damage and kidney stones, so drinking plenty of water is the first step to your body is in peak condition. A word of warning about coffee and alcohol; both are diuretics which naturally dehydrate your body. Cut down on both for faster recovery times, better metabolism and clearer skin.
Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist tradition of focusing attention on the present moment, which has come into the fore of the mental wellness rhetoric the last few years as people work to become more in tune with their emotions. Mindfulness is linked to improved mental health and has been proven to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety by 58%.
Thermal spa experiences are just one of many simple practices you can incorporate into your life that add to a therapeutic mindfulness process. The non-judgmental space allows for quiet meditation where you can switch off and focus on embracing the now.
Spa Experience also knows that you are subconsciously absorbing your surroundings all the time, so our interior design is specifically planned to induce relaxation and ease tension. Everything from the ambience to the light colour encourages you to leave the outside world and your troubles at the door, so you can focus on this valuable component of your mindfulness practice.
Best facilities: Meditate in the sauna before washing your worries away in the Monsoon shower.
Before and after: Meditation is most effective as a daily practice; even five minutes a day will give you the peace and clarity to focus on your emotions in the present moment. Find somewhere quiet, turn off your phone and avoid all distractions. Focus on your breathing as an anchor point for when your mind wanders. When you find yourself thinking about bills or errands, bring your mind back to the feeling of your lungs expanding and contracting.
If you want to combine the workout of your mind with a workout of your body, try some simple yoga poses. Just like meditation, yoga is most effective as a daily practice. Rather than spending an hour in a weekly yoga class, spend 10–15 minutes every day completing some sun salutation sequences and combine with a few easy standing poses.
STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Humans are social animals at their core, so good company and physical contact are essential to your wellbeing. Spending time together in an emotionally intimate space such as a thermal spa allows you to connect with the people around you on a deeper level. Even if you’ve never been to a thermal spa before, trying something new together will allow you to bond over the experience of a shared adventure.
Because you’ve left your phone behind, a thermal spa is the perfect place to talk about anything that has been on your mind. The space allows you to focus on what is important to your relationship and communicate outside of electronic devices. The treatments also encourage the release of ‘happy hormones’ such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, enhancing the pleasure of the experience you’re sharing together.
Appreciating the calm togetherness of a Thermal Spa Experience with your significant other supports the concept of hygge. So many of our simple pleasures come from warm camaraderie and sharing moments with our loved ones, so if you’re looking for a new way to embrace the Scandinavian tradition, there’s no better time to visit a thermal spa.
Best facilities: Cool off under the Bucket Showers before chilling out in the Relaxation Lounge.
SPA EXPERIENCE FACILITIES
A relaxing heated seating area, the Hammam is the perfect introduction to the thermal spa experience and can also be used as space to enjoy in between treatments.
Locations: Belfast, Bethnal Green, Epsom, Old Street, Waltham Forest, Wimbledon.
A dry heat treatment in a wood-lined room with a temperature reaching 90 degrees Celsius, designed to induce perspiration in order to cleanse the body of impurities.
Available at all Spa Experience locations.
HOT ROOMS (TURKISH BATHS)
Based on a system that is thousands of years old, these hot, dry air rooms vary from moderate to intense heats. Every 10 minutes, transition from the Tepidarium (warm room) to the Caldarium (hot room) to the Laconium (hottest room) to relax the muscles and relieve the pain of rheumatism.
The Turkish Baths at our Spa Experience locations have a rich history. York Hall at Bethnal Green was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York in 1921, while the Ironmonger Row Baths in Old Street was originally a public washhouse and laundry built in 1844, with a swimming pool and Turkish Baths being added in 1938.
Locations: Bethnal Green, Old Street.
A vital part of the thermal spa experience is alternating heat treatments with a brief immersion in the traditional Plunge Pool. Each dip in the icy pool will improve circulation by cooling the body; this can also improve cardiovascular health.
Locations: Bethnal Green, Old Street, Welwyn Garden City.
Multiple jets working on different muscle groups to pummel away any stress and fatigue from the body.
Exclusive to our Belfast spa, a sanarium is a combination of a sauna and a steam room. It’s not as hot as a sauna, and not as humid as a steam room, but you still get to enjoy the benefits of a hot thermal treatment.
The Ice Fountain produces ice flakes to be rubbed on the body which stimulates circulation and facilitates the cooling of the body.
Locations: Bethnal Green, Kensington, Old Street, Taunton, Waltham Forest, Wimbledon.
Exclusive to our Belfast spa, the Ice Room is an immersive experience that perfectly contract the Hot Rooms for the perfect thermal spa experience.
Imagine the exhilaration when you pull the chain to be drenched with invigorating cold water.Locations: Bethnal Green, Epsom, Old Street, Taunton, Waltham Forest, Wimbledon.
An oasis of calm. This quiet sanctuary is a designated area for pure relaxation while taking delight in complimentary infused water and fresh fruit.
Available at all Spa Experience locations.
In order to get the most out of your Thermal Spa Experience, arrive early to acclimatise to the environment. Upon arrival you will complete a health questionnaire and receive a thermal bag containing a robe, towel and footwear for you to use throughout your treatment and return once it is complete.
While you should wear a robe and footwear in public areas, bathing costumes are to be worn at all times and you need to dry off before entering the Relaxation Lounge and reception area.
The Thermal Spa Experience is your time to switch off and unwind. The best way to do this is to leave your phone in your locker and enjoy the quiet. While you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, don’t eat a large meal beforehand or bring in any food. You also shouldn’t smoke or drink before, during or after your treatments, as you will negate the health benefits of the thermal spa.
Some locations have male/female only sessions for those who might be self-conscious or would prefer to have no distractions from the experience.