by A. LAGLAGARON & L. BERTOTTO 

A spa hour can seem inessential when compared to other big wellness tips — more of a splurge than a legitimately healthy thing to do. But make no mistake: this bliss can do so much for you. It turns out that a spa hour a month (or a week) might be one of the most efficient things you can do for your overall health in terms of both the number of proven benefits and the importance of those benefits.

1. Brain Efficiency

YOUR “SPA-AHA!” MOMENT: COULD YOUR SPA HOUR MAKE YOU SMARTER?

 In an article for the Scientific American, Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime1, Ferris Jabr explores a growing body of research that reveals how “mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.” Beyond controlling stress, it seems downtime allows the brain to become more effective.

Downtime includes meditation or mindfulness, vacations and naps. A spa hour is all three. During a typical facial, massage or body treatment at VMV, your mind wanders, it slows down, you experience a real escape from daily worries and, often, you nap — in perfect 10-minute increments (studies show that 7-10 minutes of sleep is ideal to reenergize without needing to recover from the “sleep inertia” that follows longer naps).

In addition to a break and revitalization, the research shows that: “downtime…is essential to… achieve our highest levels of performance.” It can help you become more effective at work and problem-solving. As Jabr writes, “studies have demonstrated that the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming — an experience many people have had while taking a shower. Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime.” Your Eureka moment might just be waiting for that facial.

2. Be a Better Person

IT MIGHT MAKE YOUR THERAPIST JEALOUS

In the same article, Jabr shares that downtime could be a form of self improvement, being “essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics.” As the mind is freed of distractions, it can make sense of recent learnings and explore unresolved issues that the brain may not be able to focus on during the course of a busy day. Jabr adds, “A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future” — perfect for goal setting. Indeed, a spa hour quiets the mind to “shuffle through all those neglected mental post-it notes listing half-finished projects … we mull over the aspects of our lives with which we are most dissatisfied, searching for solutions. We sink into scenes from childhood and catapult ourselves into different hypothetical futures. And we subject ourselves to a kind of moral performance review, questioning how we have treated others lately.”

A big plus is that in a spa hour, this self-reflection happens peacefully and organically. You needn’t concentrate on letting go, you just do. You don’t think, “now I’m going to focus on my life and how I can be a better person” — this, plus surprising perspectives and even solutions, just “pop into your head.” And it’s an altogether pleasant experience: self-improvement that doesn’t feel like work.

3. Age Fighting

DOWNTIME TO REVERSE TIME

Other studies2 have shown a link between the positive emotional or psychological results of meditation and an increase in the longevity of telomerase, an enzyme that is fundamental to the long-term health and youth of cells. While the notion that meditation reduces stress might be an old one, that meditation could affect proteins related to aging, possibly prolonging our cellular health and youth, is new and compelling.

Furthermore, the link between stress and inflammation is well proven, and inflammation is linked to a slew of skin, mental and health problems. In addition to the “great mind escape” that our spa treatments provide, each one features quality time with our products that, besides being allergen-free, are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and are deeply reparative to skin.

Don’t forget: skin stressors age the skin, too. Rashes, irritations, pimples, itching, severe dryness, and reactions to products are all incidents of physical stress on the skin and are all types of inflammation. Whether or not you already have sensitive skin, avoiding allergens can help prevent various problems (even subtle ones which may not yet be obvious) which can thin and stress the skin, and contribute to aging.

4. Skin Renewal

BRAIN…MIND…SOUL…NOW, SKIN!

new-skin-resolutions-03-sqAs your mind is wandering, improving brain function and promoting inner peace, we scrub away dullness, target problem areas and help you reveal fresh, revitalized skin. Nothing revives like a deep-cleaning facial or body treatment (also ideal for jumpstarting your daily regimen). VMV’s clinically-sound treatments, designed and audited by dermatologists and our licensed estheticians, are allergen-free and completely customized for your skin’s varying needs. Top picks for spring:

SuperSkin Facial: Is taking better care of your skin one of your resolutions? Slough away the evidence of last year’s bad habits (sleeping with makeup on, anyone?) with our classic facial. Rushing to a spring fling? Get a quick “perk-me-up” 30-minute Skin-a-Jiffy Facial (a great way to balance skin care duties with a full calendar).

Let Down Your Stresses: Did last year leave you frazzled and scrambled? Escape to “skinvana,” our skin-renewing SuperSkin Facial with tension-melting massages on stress points. Or try our “Oil” Aglow Hydrating Coconut Body Wrap for a thorough exfoliation, ooh-inducing massage and an inconceivably soothing, anti-inflammatory and skin-softening body wrap with our pure virgin coconut oil (why have your mind wander locally when it can escape to a tropical paradise?).

Answer Back: Work the season’s wispy floral dresses with a blemish-free back and shoulders. Our “bacne” buster is a must for clearing imperfections. Also covered up all winter: arms and legs. Make their reveal as gentle and smooth as possible with our expert, safe, and non-irritating Hypoallergenic Waxing services (note: some services are available in select locations).

Deep relaxation, heightened brain efficiency, self improvement and a gorgeous glow. Not bad for an hour!

1. Jabr, Ferris. Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime. Scientific American. Oct. 15, 2013. 
2. Jacobs, T.L., et al., Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010), doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.09.010 and Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health. UC Davis News and Information. Nov. 3, 2010. 

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