The Art of Stress Management {Win a spa day voucher!}

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!!

The Results

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.

 

WOW.

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.

About Caro Davies

Caro Davies art directed fashion and interiors before leaving the world of design to pursue a career in social media. She can now be found chasing the light — and two small twin boys.

50 thoughts on “The Art of Stress Management {Win a spa day voucher!}

    1. It really, really can take it’s toll, can’t it?!! I genuinely didn’t think my heat rate would be any different making the kids tea but it was through the roof!!! And, similarly, the reading after a few hours at the spa was so low!! Made me realise that I must remember to take a bit of time out every now and then! Good luck Vicky! xx

  1. Hi Caro, love your blog and your insta posts. You are so creative and really quite inspiring. (Love the caravan conversions!!)
    I have 2 boys (5 & 2.5) & I also work as a Assistant Therapy Practitioner in the community for the NHS. Life is super busy and expensive so getting the work/life balance is really difficult. I de-stress by licking the bathroom door and having a hot bubble bath.
    My favourite thing to do though, is go to the seaside and have fish and chips with my boys.
    Keep up the good work Caro. It really is appreaciated. Xx
    Lisa

    1. Thanks so much Lisa-Jayne — what a gorgeous message! You’ve made my day!! Although your message did make me laugh — ‘licking the bathroom door’? Definitely a typo (I think?) but such a funny one!!! Good luck!!! xx

    1. I felt so relaxed after the spa day at Whittlebury, I was almost like a zombie for the rest of the day!!!!! Could have almost done with going straight to bed and not having to deal with real life!!!! LOL! Good luck lovely! xx

  2. I love Whittlebury Hall, pretty sure I fell asleep a few years ago during my massage! Favourite way to relax currently after a busy day with my toddler is with a book, blanket, cup of tea and the corner of the sofa after he has gone to bed.

    1. I’d never been before Rebecca — it’s so lovely isn’t it? I had a massage booked there last year but the traffic was so bad I had to cancel!! This more than made up for it :) Even though I didn’t have a treatment, I felt SO relaxed when I left!!

  3. Nothing quite like a hot cup of tea and the sound of silence to help me relax – a rare treat with my two year old twins, but I really benefit from it when the opportunity arises.
    Sitting in the garden and taking some nice deep breaths is also very calming, but a day with the girls at a spa or something similar – away from
    all responsibilities – is the only way to really feel recharged xx

    1. HA! YES! Silence is rare and golden when you have little twins. My boys have just turned 6 and the noise levels have escalated eve more (if that’s possible!!)! But I love the noise and the chaos. Although, a couple of hours away to recharge is heavenly :)

  4. Relaxing is really hard when everyday is a rush, but I find laughing with friends a great tonic, also absorbing myself in a great film at the cinema and lastly walking along the shore line looking for shells and sea glass. A spa day is a real luxury treat for me but a fab one to share with a friend.

    1. This used to be one of my favourite ways to switch-off, but since I had the boys I can’t seem to do it any more! As soon as I get into bed and start reading, my eyes droop and I fall asleep!! Everytime!! I’ve read the same page of my book about 50 times over!! LOL!!

  5. my favourite way to relax is spending quality time with my hubby, chilling at home, or going for a walk in the countryside. Also a nice bath!

    1. We’ve been walking lots recently! Since the boys have got a little older and can walk for longer we’ve been able to go on some lovely long rambles. Definitely relaxing, as they’re so tired when we get home!! Makes for a peaceful night!!! :)

  6. I went to Ragdale Hall about 15 years ago and that was out of this world, I’ve never felt so relaxed. My fave way to relax at home is a long hot bath with candles and chilled out music, with a hair mask and face mask, new pj’s, hot chocolate with squirty cream, marshmallows and a little bit of baileys ;-) a nice romantic film. And of course plenty of chocolate.

    1. Oooh YES!! To ALL of that!!! That’s my perfect night in.

      I’ve never been to Ragdale but it’s not a million miles from here — I’ve always wanted to go. Going to Whittlebury for a couple of hours made me realise how MUCH I needed to relax. I think, the next time I go to a spa, I’d like to do an overnight stay!! Then, afterwards I won’t need to drive home and commence parental duties again… I can literally just go to bed!! :)

  7. You often feel very alone with stress, thinking you are the only one experiencing it but that isn’t the case at all. A spa day is a perfect way to relax and Whittlebury Hall looks super, even though it’s some distance from me, I’m going to have a look, it sounds just what I need.

    1. I totally agree. When you’re in the midst of a stressful period, it can feel so isolating, can’t it? Sometimes, just sharing the load and telling people how you feel is enough to make things feel a bit brighter!! And yes! I highly recommend Whittlebury. I’d never been before but I’ll definitely make the effort to go again; it was such a lovely place.

  8. I am must certainly in need of a relaxation boost right now as seems like past few months have been spent in flight or fight mode due to chronic illness issues

  9. Hey there Caro, thanks for a fab read… I can relate on so many levels…
    We had recurrent miscarriage though and the losses were too many to count. After our little girl was born I was on cloud nine like you. But we thought we’d better crack on with trying to get another. Then our little boy came along 17 months later.
    I love parenthood and am not new to it as I also have a 23yo who blewnin as easy as the wind! Blame stress for the second and third chapters. That’s what the Doctor said anyway. So learning to manage stress was a major factor in successfully producing O+J.
    Nowadays, I eat far too much chocolate, I have a cockapoo who is attention hungry but loves a snuggle and fabulous listening ears in the shape of my hubby and good pals. Stress happens and it’s daily, leaks through our ceiling last weekend… Electric cable cut in the garden this week. Arghhhhh
    I would love to get away from it all I really would BUT you couldn’t keep me away from the stress of motherhood. It will always be the best stress around to have xxx

    1. Aaah bless you!! I bet it resonates with so many people — men and women. I know that my husband felt mega-stressed when we were TTC too — albeit, he didn’t suffer the physical trauma of the losses. Stress manifests itself in so many ways doesn’t it? But, I totally agree, I’d take the stress of motherhood any day over not. Having the boys and experiencing motherhood is something that I’ll never, ever take for granted. So glad that you got your pot of gold, at the end of the rainbow, too xx

    1. That’s such a lovely idea!! It should be available on prescription!! :) One spa day per year for every woman :) I hadn’t had one for about 6 years so I REALLY needed it!! I was absolutely zonked when I got home!!

  10. This might sound weird but I’ll just go there anyway. Puzzles … I’ve just discovered that Suduko and other challenging puzzles get me completely focused stop my mind from doing that stressful bouncing-all-over-the-place thing that can happen at the end of a long multi-tasking filled day. It’s nice to do them on paper, to have screen down time too 👍🏻

    1. Aaah do you know? I can absolutely see where you’re coming from here!! I wrote a post about adult colouring books a few years ago — it’s the same kind of thing! Focussing on something and emptying your mind is just as relaxing as not doing anything at all. In fact, sometimes, I feel it’s even more relaxing; as it forces the mind to stop wandering!! And yes! I agree. Anything away from a screen, in this day and age, is BRILLIANT :)

    1. Me TOO! At the moment, our boiler’s on the blink so every bath I’ve tried to run recently has been decidedly ‘tepid’. Looking forward to a lovely hot bath sometime very soon!!

  11. I’ve never had a spa day but would love to experience one with my lovely daughter. At the moment I relax by taking my dog for gentle walks somewhere quiet. Usually down to the beach early in the morning.

  12. My partner works away for long periods and we have two very young children so I find when I’m Mum AND Dad there isn’t really ever an off switch as day or night there’s usually someone that needs me. A bath is gereally my biggest luxury and a spa day would be heaven! X

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