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It's the whole spa experience that makes a difference to client wellbeing

Jan 18, 2023

In so many areas of our lives we expect to see direct and tangible results from our actions. When someone has a spa treatment, it's no different. They might be seeking relaxation, improved skin tone or decreased muscle pain, for example. 

In the treatments that we offer for cancer patients, such as oncology massage, the benefits are even more specific - targeting the side effects of cancer treatment as well as providing much needed rest. The emphasis is heavily on the treatment but we also put a lot of effort into how we set up the spa environment. That's not just because it's nice to enjoy warm lighting and calming scents, it's because the mindset we create in the spa environment also has a powerful impact on our physical health. 

Now, studies are showing evidence for what spa therapists have always intuitively known - here’s how studies are showing the wellbeing benefits of a spa mindset - specifically, promoting gratitude. 

 

Studies show holistic wellness and spa mindset can help prevent disease 

One way to create a holistic, spa mindset is to promote gratitude. Promoting gratitude is one of our central tenets at Jennifer Young Training. We check in with our own team each morning and we encourage a mindful outlook in everything we do. When someone is having an especially hard time, that's not always easy to do, and it's not about pretending that everything is ok when it's not. It's simply about looking for the light.

Studies however, show that gratitude may help prevent particular diseases, or at least that it has a lot of health benefits. In part, this is thanks to the flood of “happy hormones” in your brain that it releases when we focus on happiness. Those hormones change the type of decision you make (for example, around what you eat or whether you exercise), and also have an impact on the hormones in your body, which in turn impact organs and long-term wellbeing [1]. 

 

Health benefits of gratitude may include:

  • Reducing heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Speeding recovery time
  • Reducing respiratory rate
  • Increasing immune function
  • Improving cognition
  • Boosting mood
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing chronic pain
  • Lowering inflammation

 

In contrast, for example, anxiety produces stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), which can lead to [2]:

  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment  

 

Health concerns that benefit from gratitude practices

Resulting from these side effects, some of the health issues that gratitude can help protect against include:

 

Heart disease

A 2021 analysis of cardiovascular health studies found that those at risk of heart attack and who used gratitude practice showed improved heart health and a lower risk of heart disease. [3]

 

Type II diabetes

Long term, poor diet and lifestyle choices can have a negative impact on the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar properly. In more extreme cases that can lead to Type II diabetes. One way of measuring blood sugar is by measuring haemoglobin A1c in people’s blood. A 2017 study found that people who consciously chose to be grateful daily saw 9 to 13% lower levels of A1C. [4]

 

Cancer

We would never suggest that gratitude prevents cancer because that's simply not how it works - more often than not it can't be prevented. However, there is some research from a 2019 study that indicates that you can lower inflammation in the body through the practice of gratitude.. Reducing inflammation can only be a good thing for your mind and body[5]. Another cited also showed that a gratitude diary can help improve the daily psychological experience of women being treated for breast cancer [5].

 

Flu

A 2022 study indicated that the immune-strengthening and mood-boosting properties of gratitude might also help to ward off seasonal flu. This is because stress leads to cortisol production which in some instances can have a negative impact on the immune system. The positive feelings gratitude releases can help to counters that and improve immune function.[6]

 

Chronic pain

Chronic pain can be crippling for many people, but one of the most exciting areas of gratitude research indicates that it may reduce an individual’s perception of pain, improve pain or even prevent pain. The study from 2005 indicated that after practising gratitude exercises, patients with chronic back pain experienced an improved sense of wellbeing as well as pain reduction. [7]

 

Insomnia 

Lots of people suffer from insomnia, especially during cancer treatment. It can be a truly upsetting thing to experience, especially when you're exhausted. Furthermore, as sleep is a foundation of health, not getting enough can have an impact on lots of things, from mood to heart health. Research into a group of people with clinically impaired sleep has indicated that when they thought grateful thoughts as they were falling asleep they slept longer and had a better quality of sleep

 

Bringing gratitude into your spa treatments

What we love about practising gratitude is that it isn't just good for our clients, but it's good for you as well. We know that therapists work incredibly hard and often it's your own health that suffers in favour of that of others. In our spa treatments we encourage gratitude practices that will support your clients wellbeing and yours. 

It is so simple that within a treatment we want to relax the client, balance the client and give confidence to enjoy life. Ideas you can adopt include:

  • Affirmation cards
  • Nurturing products 
  • Positive communication
  • Energy through crystals 
  • The power of touch within the Jennifer Young treatments, leaving clients with strong feelings of self worth, relaxation and balance

 

 


[1] https://www.thehealthy.com/habits/how-to-prevent-disease-with-gratitude-from-doctors/

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

[3] https://www.vcuhealth.org/news/how-gratitude-can-help-your-heart

[4] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316897934_General_feelings_of_gratitude_gratitude_to_god_and_hemoglobin_A1c_Exploring_variations_by_gender

[5] https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2019/03/practicing-gratitude

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6582750/

[7] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/ease-pain/202112/5-exercises-ease-chronic-pain-gratitude 

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