Catherine Butler learns how to handle stress with alternative therapies at the Lifehouse Spa
Arriving at The Lifehouse near Colchester after a hellish motorway journey, I realise I could do with a bit of inner calm. Luckily for me, no sooner have I arrived than I am ensconced in a bubble of tranquility.
The spa promises something beyond your standard pampering (although, let's face it, they all do). There's no ‘one-size fits all’ philosophy here, instead, over the next two days the team of experts tailor me a package of treatments promising a total life overhaul. Which is good because, although my nails could do with a buff, what I’m really after is some motivation and a lesson in handling stress. With a wedding swiftly approaching and a newly launched freelance career, I’ve found that balancing the two while still finding time for everyday life is beginning to get me down.
Within two hours of arriving, my bags have been whisked up to my room (contemporary, comfortable, stylish), and I’ve had a top-to-toe body scrub and massage, designed to leave me feeling relaxed and open to new ideas. In fact, I’m so chilled as I make my way to meet health and wellness manager Sue, I’m struggling to walk in a straight line! She has some invaluble tips for combating stress: vitamin B to stop my premature grey hairs; and oily fish (‘essential fatty acids are more effective than Prozac’).
Natural remedies to help you fight stress
The concept of The Lifehouse is that you are taken away from everyday distractions and put into a place where you have the room to embrace new ways of thinking. So by the time I meet Moon, the Reiki healer and spiritual guide who tells me that my emotional and mental being is totally out of kilter, I’m not going to argue. As I lie on her massage table, she tells me the ability to achieve what I want is within my grasp, I just need to find my will to do it. I have to repress the urge to giggle as she blows through the crown of my head to rid me of bad energy but after my hour’s session, I feel positive and focused, and leave with the rather unfamiliar conviction that I can do it if I put my mind to it.
Flower remedies is my favourite hour. Also taken by Sue, it draws on the idea that we intuitively recognise the flowers that possess properties we need. Using photo cards I identify those which most appeal to or repel me. It turns out the flowers I choose are spookily apt: the Billy Goat Plum is for ‘encouraging acceptance of one’s physical body’ – I wonder if this is representative of my recent obsession with not being the ‘right size’ for my wedding dress.
Leaving the Lifehouse was a bit like emerging from a cocoon. Yes, I am scrubbed and preened to within an inch of my life, but I also feel just as pampered on the inside as I do on the out. Will my new ways survive my journey home? I’m already beginning to doubt it. But then I remember my session earlier in the day with life coach Pete Cohen, ‘changing your life is like crossing your arms the opposite way; it feels weird at first, but with a little practice it will become second nature.’
Lifehouse Spa (www.lifehouse.co.uk) is set in 12 acres of gardens near the sandy beachs of Frinton-on-Sea, and offers overnight stays and day visits.
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