Why caring for your physical self with a spa visit is no longer considered a luxury.
Words by Kristy Elik

At this gorgeous time of the year, when our surroundings are so full of life and tingly spring fever and the heady feeling that anything—truly anything—is possible, our bodies and our spirits yearn to break free.

Inspired by the sight of every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass and every songbird expressing his joy in ecstatic melody, we, too, feel like rejoicing after a long winter lying dormant.

It feels like a time to emerge from our cocoons, to throw off the binds that weigh us down and metamorphose into our real selves, living the life we’re meant to live.

This, though, can be a really scary process. It takes courage and strength to embrace the idea of change, and in a world that demands that so much of our time be focused outward on the acquisition of items we really don’t need (see Jan Hornick’s story, The Uncertain Value of Stuff), it seems counterproductive to take even a little of that precious time to look inward.

But as it turns out, it may hurt us more—physically, mentally and emotionally—if we don’t occasionally set aside time to stop and think about ourselves.

A turning point
When I turned forty last May (and I’m okay with it now, really I am), I debated internally for a long time about the perfect place to celebrate and with whom to toast my milestone. I had just endured a painful breakup and left a great job, one that I adored but that wasn’t letting me grow or evolve. It was early days and to be honest, I was questioning my decisions. I needed to regroup.

Now don’t get me wrong. My heart is filled to overflowing with love for a lot of people, but on that special day, I chose to wake up all by myself. I rented a room in an exquisite little retreat in Niagara-on-the-Lake called the Oban Inn & Spa.

The evening before my birthday, I treated myself to an incredibly luxurious facial, choosing for once to keep my big mouth shut during the treatment instead of feeling pressured to make small talk with the aesthetician.

That night before falling asleep, as I nestled in insanely high-thread count Eqyptian sheets among feather pillows in a massive four-post bed, I made a list of all the countries I’ve visited, all the houses I’ve lived in, all the concerts I’ve been to, my favorite kinds of chocolate bar— just kind of accounting for where I’ve spent these past forty years so that I could plan where best to spend the next forty. It was such a decadent feeling, taking the time to indulge in my memories, and I realized we’re much too reluctant to soul search. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of what we’ll find.

In the end, those hours I spent indulging were a birthday present to me, from me—and it was a turning point in my life that I will remember forever.

Nutrition for your soul
I’ve found that one of the benefits of getting older is feeling less inclined to make excuses. I used to feel embarrassed to admit I went to any spa for any treatment. It sounds so Paris Hiltonish, as in: “Where’s my mimosa? I’ve just come from the spaaaah, dahling.” But I’m beginning to accept the idea that treating yourself to an hour’s break from the daily grind is nutritious for your soul. Never mind the fact that you usually emerge looking fabulous.

I’m not alone in my change of heart. The spa movement is hotter than ever, with the day spas dotting Mississauga neighbourhoods like Port Credit, Clarkson and Streetsville offering a menu of delectable mini-escapes designed to transport you from stress, even if it’s just for a half hour, and make you feel beautiful at the same time.

It’s a known fact that stress, the almost inevitable byproduct of the increasingly busy lives we lead, takes a huge toll on our health, the quality of our relationships, our productivity, our thinking, our wallet and the quality of our emotional experiences.

In fact, stress is the most expensive drain on our lives and how we handle stress may very well make the difference between success and happiness and defeat and depression.

“People are busier and more stressed than ever before and are increasingly looking for convenient ways to decompress without taking time off to travel to the edges of the earth in search of peace and serenity,” says Isabel Finelli, owner of the Ivy Garden Spa in Lorne Park. “Day spas have taken a larger role in peoples’ lives and continue to reinvent the way people deal with stress by offering more affordable spa services in shorter amounts of time.”

Carving out time
In response to customer demand, more and more salons are introducing classic day spa services into their menus, allowing people to integrate pampering and relaxation appointments into their regular routines much the way they accommodate visits to their hairstylists.

“The goal is to save our clients’ time—their most precious commodity—by offering these services in a onestop experience,” explains Frank Campanelli, owner of Linea Hair Salon & Day Spa in Lorne Park.

How do customers react to the availability of these essential services just around the corner from home? Sally Elliott, a working mother of two active teenage girls, asserts that her visits to day spas are essential for her mental as well as her physical health.

“I like to take care of myself, whether it’s going to the doctor for regular checkups or having my teeth cleaned,” she says. “Spa services now fit into that same kind of category.”

It’s a part of her life Elliott calls her “circle of care”— the people who look after her and make her feel like she’s looking after herself. “The only problem is carving out the time,” she admits.

But what better time than now, when the air is fresh, and inspiration for breathing new life into old ways lies just outside your window, to widen your circle of care and improve your well-being?

You may find that indulging yourself is no longer a luxury,
but a necessity.