How are you at coping with stress? Are you impervious to it? Do you take it in your stride?
Or are you like a swan? Serene on the surface but furiously paddling under the surface?
I always thought I was quite good at managing stress. Until the proverbial hit the fan and life threw me something to really get upset about.
And throughout that time — whilst I appeared to be coping well on the outside — my stress would manifest itself at night; in the form of jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Definitely something to wipe the smile off your face, let me tell you.
But once I became a mother, a vast proportion of the stress that I’d been feeling — caused by the anxiety of trying to conceive — vanished.
I spent the first 6 months in a blissed out, exhausted state, feeling so bloody grateful for my two little sons; that no amount of sleep deprivation, cracked nipples or reflux could spoil my contentment.
The Daily Grind
These days, whilst I don’t have any one thing in particular to worry about, the daily grind — a heady combination of juggling a home, children, a business — and just life in general can feel quite overwhelming occasionally.
So when I was approached by the nice people at Buyagift and asked if I’d like to test out a smartphone app to really see if those ‘stressful situations’ — think kids teatime and bedtime — were really causing me stress and whether a ‘relaxing’ spa-day really was as relaxing as it sounds, I jumped at the chance!
I love this kind of experiment. A spa day in the name of science? Yes please!
Smartphones and Spa Days
My sister and I were both given the HRV4 Training smartphone app to use, to track our heart-rates.
We were asked to take readings at a perceived ‘stressful time of the day’ (ie the kids’ tea time or bedtime) — first thing in the morning when we awoke — and again after our spa day experience.
For our relaxing spa day, I chose to go to Whittlebury Hall, which is a short drive from our village.
My sister, Annabelle, and I arrived just before 10am; with a plan to leave at 2pm in order to be in good time to pick up the children from school. Not a full day but we figured enough time to relax.
We hadn’t booked any treatments but were given access to the facilities, which included a hydrotherapy pool, an ice cave, an aromatherapy crystal steam room plus various other pools, sauna’s and steam rooms.
Stepping into a spa is almost like setting foot in another world.
The air was heavy with the smell of frangipani and there was a lovely calm ambience.
Perfect for two fraught mothers, who needed a little bit of head space.
We were given robes and towels and began making good use of the heat and ice experiences that Whittlebury had to offer.
Testing out the different steam rooms and saunas, then spending ages in the hydrotherapy pool, being pummelled by various jets of water. It was lovely to switch off.
But even lovelier to spend some quality time with my sister.
Often when we’re together, we’re distracted by our children, husbands or parents, so it was lovely to have time together; just the two of us.
And in such heavenly surroundings too.
We’d planned to spend our visit in the spa for an hour or so, followed by a leisurely getting ready for lunch — which was included in the package.
We could have gone to the restaurant in our robes, as everyone else had, but as we were a little short on time and had to dash off straight after lunch, the prospect of getting ready with no rush or stress seemed much more appealing.
Spending longer than 10 minutes getting ready, whilst gossiping with Annabelle was such a treat.
It took me back to the days when I was a student; getting ready with my housemates for a big night out.
I don’t tend to spend half as long on myself anymore. I’ve got my make-up routine mastered to under 10 minutes and, unless I’m going out, my hair is styled using dry shampoo, rather than my hot-brush or straighteners.
Taking my time to get ready was almost as relaxing as using the spa facilities!
And finishing up our experience, with a delicious buffet lunch was the icing on the cake*.
*Only not. As cakes and health spas obviously don’t mix ;)
I had a nice healthy salad instead!!
So is ordinary life really that stressful?
And is a spa really a good form of stress management?
Well — the results are in — and mine were certainly surprising.
My readings are below.
OK — I know it’s not ‘technically’ a proper scientific experiment — but it’s pretty conclusive, eh?
My reading at the spa was even lower than when I woke up that morning!
And — even though there are definitely worse things to get stressed about than a family tea-time — my heart-rate was at it’s highest, when I was trying to get the boys to eat their dinner.
It just goes to show that ordinary daily life can sometimes take it’s toll and — equally — a few hours spent relaxing at a spa can work wonders for reducing stress.
But if you’re thinking — ‘Aaah lucky you, I’d love a spa day’ — then you may be in luck!
The Big Instagram Giveaway!
I’m running a little giveaway over on my Instagram account at the moment!! Very, very simple; just like a couple of accounts — and tag a couple of friends — to be in with a chance of winning!
One lucky winner will be given an indulgent spa days voucher, which will offer you a choice of 600 experiences; some are spa access plus a meal — or afternoon tea — and others are spa access plus treatments, for two people.
You can choose your venue and you and a lucky companion will get to kick back and relax.
This is such a lovely giveaway. And the perfect way to treat either yourself — or someone you love this coming Mothers’ Day
The giveaway ends at midnight on Monday 25th March 2019 and a winner will be chosen at random.
UK entrants only, I’m afraid.
Terms and conditions apply.
Thanks so much to the lovely team at Buyagift for sending me on a spa day in the name of research! I was given the HRV4 Training smartphone app — and an indulgent spa day for two — for the purposes of this post, and they have kindly given another voucher for me to giveaway.
Although this is in collaboration with Buyagift, all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own.