Bringing the Spa Home

There are myriad ways to recreate a stress-busting home spa experience.

March 2015

You recall a visit to your favorite spa and want to recreate the experience at home. But where to go? The living room is overrun with the kids and family dog. The kitchen is a mess. There’s no comfortable spot in the dining room, and the table is full of bills that need your attention. Everywhere you look there is a reminder of the experiences of daily living from which you are seeking a brief respite.

How can we effectively set up a home spa environment as an escape from stress—if that very location is a trigger for it? It just takes a little imagination and creativity.

“Getting away is more of a state of mind. That’s why they have these new things called ‘staycations,’ where you don’t vacate, you stay home,” says Christopher Cortman, PhD, a psychologist in Venice, Florida, and co-author of Take Control of Your Anxiety (Career).

All the Elements of a
Plush Spa Experience,
The Chatwal Way

A visit to a spa or resort can give you some hints on how to adapt some stress-reducing practices at home. We found some ideas for creating a luxurious home spa experience at the plush Chatwal hotel in New York City’s Theater District.

The possibilities for what you can do at home are easy to imagine at The Chatwal because the beautifully appointed hotel offers in-room massages, somewhat mimicking the home experience. At home, all you need is a willing partner, like Melody, an upbeat and skilled masseuse at The Chatwal, and the right accessories.

Melody comes equipped with a massage table, a choice of citrus- or lavender-based rub, and a eucalyptus “awakening” oil. Rounding out her tools are a towel warmer, an eye pillow filled with an herbal tea blend, a neck rest and a pillow for under your knees to keep your legs slightly aloft and comfortable.

The luxurious comfort is readily apparent in the bathrooms in Chatwal guestrooms. They are equipped with rain shower heads in the bathroom stalls, bathtubs with jets, television screens embedded in the mirrors and heated toilet seats.

As expected in an urban setting like New York City, The Chatwal’s 2,400-square-foot Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa has made the most of its space, offering steam shower stalls, rather than a separate steam room, and a one-person saltwater lap pool in which you swim against a simulated natural current. Nice touches at home, too, if you’ve got the space and means.

“You do something that helps you get away from it all, even if it means taking a bath or working out in your own garage or listening to some incredible music on your couch with surround sounds,” Cortman says. “It doesn’t have to be about the zip code or the geography—it can certainly be a mindset. People who learn how to master anxiety learn that they have to do things that let them escape from what it is that is overwhelming them without going to the Bahamas every time they get upset.”

Cortman suggests designating one room as a “getaway” room in which you can “leave the rest of the world behind.”

“In my practice, I do a lot of guided imagery to help people recover from auto accidents or something traumatic like that,” the therapist says. “I have to take them to a safe place in their mind, and then we deal with whatever the trauma is that they haven’t finished. After I ask where they want to go, I expect them to say, ‘Let’s go to the beach or a mountaintop.’ A very significant percentage say, ‘I want to go to my backyard or my bedroom or my rocking chair.’ I’m very impressed that people say the safest place they want to go, where they feel the most comfortable, is often somewhere in their own house.”

Lynne McNees, president of the International Spa Association, suggests taking ideas and cues from professional spas.

“Ten years ago there were 1.5 spas for every 100,000 people in the US. Today there are 6.4 spas for every 100,000 people,” McNees observes.

“That growth has made it much more accessible, affordable and mainstream. There are so many more opportunities for you to have that experience and pick up those tips, whether they be recipes or essential oils or meditation points, that we can incorporate into our lives.”

Cortman says it’s important to see your home spa space “as a safe place that is not contaminated by issues or stressors. That’s vital. Dedicate time to it on a regular basis and personalize it to what works for you.

“The world is never off. We have to find a way to shut it off. Not too long ago, even the TV went to sleep. They played the National Anthem and then you had white noise. That’s not the case anymore.”

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