Guys: A Spa Day Can Dial Down Stress and Anxiety

Health Writer
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International Spa Association

When you think of spas, do you think they’re mostly for women? Well, not anymore. The International SPA Association (ISPA) reports that men now represent half of the spa-going population in the United States. Their survey pegs the average male spa-goer as being between 25 and 44 years old, earning over $50,000 a year, and working a managerial/professional job. Oh, and he’s stressed out — way stressed out.

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Taking time to pause

We all know that anxiety and depression symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, and there’s proof that scheduling a spa day on a regular basis can have great benefits for your mental and physical health. It also can re-energize you to tackle your daily responsibilities. “The number one reason both men and women visit a spa worldwide is to learn how to manage their stress,” says ISPA’s president Lynne McNees. “Visiting a spa gives you permission to pause.”

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An active vacation

It may be a pause from your regular life — and you do have the option of doing nothing but relax — but a spa visit can also have you going from morning to night. You can step up your fitness routine with hiking, swimming, or aerial sports, work out with a personal trainer, and attend lectures, workshops, and cooking demonstrations. And you can take your grooming routine to a new level with treatments like an exfoliating facial or a pedicure to wrestle gnarly toenails into shape.

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Meditate on this

You can also take classes in the latest mind-body techniques like meditation, yoga, and tai chi. These techniques are especially good for bringing some relief for stress, anxiety, and depression. A review of 36 randomized clinical trials found that meditation therapies can improve anxiety symptoms, while numerous studies show massage and aromatherapy are effective for both anxiety and depression symptoms.

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Long-lasting health benefits to be had

A spa vacation may seem pricey at $300-$1,000 a day, but rates are often all-inclusive and may have a built-in spa allowance. And research shows a spa vacation can actually have long-lasting mental and physical benefits. An Australian study found that seven days at a retreat emphasizing healthy eating, exercise, relaxation practices such as yoga and meditation, and spa treatments relieved anxiety and depression symptoms for up to six weeks after the vacation. (It also improved physical health.)

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Getting away feels good

Similarly, in a Thomas Jefferson University study, 13 women and two men went to a California spa for a one-week program that included a special diet, meditation, and yoga. The participants lost an average of 6.8 lbs., saw improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and were less angry, tense, and fatigued at the end of the week.

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Expanding spa choices

ISPA estimates that 184 million spa visits were booked in 2016, up 2.5 percent over 2015. And whether you want to kick back just for the day, for a weekend, or a week, you can find a spa in the United States geared to your every wish. Some spas are attached to golf courses or tied to other outdoor activities, and many have services catering just to men. Some spas even have separate rooms for men and women to reduce embarrassment while you’re waiting to be called in for a treatment.

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Miraval resort in Tucson, Arizona

Miraval, a luxury resort with a Southwestern vibe, caters to men by serving alcohol, as well as hearty, healthy breakfast and lunch buffets, and gourmet dinner entrees. The emphasis is on life in balance at the resort, which offers outdoor challenge activities like mountain biking and hiking in the desert, an equine experience to help guests access their inner selves, culinary classes, fitness programs, and spa treatments including a variety of massage techniques that appeal to male guests.

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Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts

Canyon Ranch takes spa-going to a new level by offering medical services (some guests return year after year for physicals), sleep studies, and nutrition counseling as well as a wide roster of biking, hiking, golf, racquet sports, water activities, high-adventure experiences, nutrition and fitness lectures, and relaxation classes. The emphasis is on personal growth and life enhancement at this premier spa. Evenings can be devoted to healthy fine dining (no alcohol is served) and spa treatments.

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The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania

Men can enjoy beer-inspired spa treatments at the woodsy The Lodge at Woodloch located in the Pocono Mountains. Outdoor adventures are another big draw, from golfing to kayaking, fly fishing, archery, hiking, and biking. The delicious cuisine is farm-to-table gourmet (they have a gardener on staff) with full bar service. And activities like the forest bathing program teach spa-goers how to use nature walks to relieve stress and anxiety; you can even brush up on art and photography skills here.

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Kohler Waters Spa, Wisconsin and Scotland

Kohler Waters Spas specialize in hydrotherapy (water treatments). During the Rain Man shower experience, spa-goers lie on a table under customized shower heads and receive a soothing massage and warm stone treatment. The Woodsman Deep-Tissue Massage is also popular and is designed to increase circulation and range of motion while reducing muscular pain, tension, and inflammation. The spas are located on resort properties with premier golf courses and a range of dining options.

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Red Mountain Resort, St. George, Utah

The main event at Red Mountain is adventure. The resort offers opportunities like biking, canyoneering, rappelling, rock climbing, and paddling that take advantage of the unique red cliffs and canyons of southern Utah. It also offers male-friendly spa treatments such as the Red Rock Hiker’s Massage, which pays extra attention to sore legs, and the Gentleman’s Facial, to address the specific needs of men’s skin. Guests can also enjoy beer or wine with gourmet meals and buffets.

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DIY spa treatments

If a spa trip isn’t your style or is beyond your wallet, pamper yourself with an at-home product such as: