News   Features   Video    Products   Magazine   Handbook   Email sign up   Advertise  
Research
Mind over matter

A new white paper reveals the scientific evidence behind numerous modalities and their impact on mental health. Editor Gerry Bodeker explains how spas can tap into this wealth of information

By Gerry Bodeker | Published in Spa Business 2019 issue 1


In October a 122-page white paper on mental wellness was unveiled to hundreds of spa and wellness professionals at the Global Wellness Summit in Italy (see SB18/4 p78). It was created in response to an upsurge of interest in mental wellness from both industry members and the general public. As Dr Ranieri Guerra from the World Health Organization notes in its introduction: “Mental, neurological and substance use disorders affect one in four people over their lifetime and one in 10 at any given time, and thus affect billions of lives globally.”

The aim of Mental Wellness: Pathways, Evidence and Horizons is to identify the many complementary interventions which are scientifically proven to help enhance people’s mental wellbeing and happiness. There was a lot of existing research and it’s taken the Mental Wellness Initiative – a Global Wellness Institute action group – a year and a half to pull everything together. But finally there’s a body of evidence on a wide range of modalities – from massage, aroma, sound and light therapy to movement and exercise, mindfulness and nutrition, and the benefits that these offer for mental wellbeing.

Many of the therapies are already available in spas and the white paper now showcases evidence to support future innovation. Facilities have an opportunity to act as a safe entry point into these wellness modalities which support mental wellbeing and happiness that may be unknown, and perhaps untrusted, outside of the spa setting.

Proven modalities
Massage is one of the common spa services highlighted in the white paper for its proven effectiveness on anything from pain and cancer to headaches and infant care. Information was taken from the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and a 2010 meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials concluded that massage therapy may also help to reduce depression.

The US National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy references a range of studies showing, among other effects, the stress-reducing properties of sage oil, immune-modifying effect of eucalyptus oil, the role of peppermint oil in counteracting neuralgia, and the combination of peppermint and caraway oil in enhancing the quality of life of people suffering from dyspepsia.

Elsewhere, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that since 1970, there have been have been 19,000 studies published conducted on various aspects of meditation and its benefits.

We also identified many beneficial mental wellness pathways that are not typically found in spas, but which have potential for innovation and rejuvenation of the spa experience. These include laughter yoga – Google it! – art therapy, journaling and the influence of nature.

As it turns out, social laughter, seems to release endorphins associated with feelings of wellbeing and heightened mood. Oxford University researchers in the UK conducted a series of experiments and found that pain thresholds – an indicator for endorphin release – were significantly higher after laughter. They suggest that “laughter, through an endorphin-mediated opiate effect, may play a crucial role in social bonding”.

Group support and social connectedness are also foundational in maintaining a state of mental wellness.

For spas in areas of rich cultural heritage, there’s the opportunity to partner with local experts to build new, culturally important offerings. All cultures have clear dietary, exercise and other health practices encoded in their ways of living. Uncovering these traditional wellness practices can transform our understanding of the way human physiology works and the energetic basis of wellbeing.

Researching the spa experience
In the second section of the white paper, we drill down into the spa experience itself and find there’s an emerging body of science backing up claims that it benefits mental wellness.

In 2016, doctors Elissa Epel, Deepak Chopra and colleagues found highly significant changes resulting from a ayurvedic detox/rejuvenation programme known as panchakarma. These include a reduction in many metabolites which are risk factors for metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It also found that a break of just six days sets off genetic changes which can boost the immune system, decrease symptoms of depression and dementia and reduce stress (see SB16/4 p91).

In Australia, RMIT professor Marc Cohen and his team’s study on 4,265 mostly female respondents using thermal bathing spas found that “relaxation”, “peace and tranquility”, “indulgence” and “escape” were the most important motivators for bathing. Most respondents reported general health benefits (98 per cent) and better sleep (82 per cent) from bathing. Significant benefits were reported for back pain, arthritis, stress/anxiety, depression and insomnia (see SB17/2 p56).

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease project in Finland examined 2,315 men aged 42-60 over a five-year period. It found that increased frequency of sauna bathing – four to seven times a week for 30 minutes at a time – is associated with a reduced risk of heart-related disease, death and all-cause mortality. Sauna sessions have also been linked to lower risks of dementia (see SB17/1 p108).

In other research, a French study found that levels of anxiety and depression in 250 women who had breast cancer treatment were reduced by a two-week, multi-modality spa programme. Stronger and longer lasting effects were especially noted in reductions in depression.

What does this mean to spas?
So. How can spas harness this new flood of knowledge? I’ve often argued that spas have the potential to be the organisational face of wellness. Some destination spas, like Lapinha in Brazil, Brenners Park, in Germany and Kamalaya in Thailand, already are. They offer a wider range of wellness modalities under one roof that can’t be found in any other setting. Others focus more on massage and bodywork – but there’s much more than this available to enliven the spa world and its offering to clients, and the white paper highlights the many different evidence-based pathways which can be used.

Nowadays there are so many centres for yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc, that it’s not necessary for spas to employ therapists directly. Bringing visiting practitioners in and building a marketing plan around them can breathe new life into the spa business.  

The wealth of information, available freely at globalwellnessinstitute.org, can be drawn on to support the science behind spa modalities. This can be shared with customers, published in magazine and online articles as well as in marketing materials, and shared via educational sessions.

There are opportunities to target new markets, such as parents-to-be. A section on The First 1,000 Days of Life offers evidence on how wellness approaches that future parents engage with are predictors of the mental and physical wellbeing of their children in adulthood.

Or partnerships could be formed with existing community groups and local enterprises, such as those focused on older adults. Dance, tai chi, meditation and yoga all are supported by scientific evidence as reducing many conditions associated with ageing such as risk of falling, anxiety and depression, early onset dementia.

The white paper also places an emphasis on spa staff being treated with the same consideration as guests and that a code of ethics for spas is called for.

Finally, there’s the opportunity for spas and spa groups to begin partnering with local and international researchers to uncover new areas of evidence about the value of spa experiences. Here the focus is not only our physical health but especially on mental wellness and living a life in balance and happiness.

Farris Bad opens 100-person events sauna

Download a free copy of Mental Wellness: Pathways, Evidence and Horizons from the Global Wellness Institute website: globalwellnessinstitute.org

Gerry Bodeker

Gerry Bodeker is chair of the GWI’s Mental Wellness Initiative and editor of its mental wellness white paper.

Email: [email protected]

Gerry Bodeker
The evidence highlighted in the white paper can be shared with customers, published in articles and used in educational sessions
Attracting older adults: movement classes decrease the risk of falling, anxiety and depression Credit: Ulza/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
A Deepak Chopra study suggests that a six-day retreat can help with stress and depression
Frequent sauna visits are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia Credit: nd3000/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

RKF Luxury Linen collaborates with CODAGE Paris
RKF Luxury Linen, a creator of the finest linen for spas and cosmetic brands, has announced a new collaboration with French cosmetic brand CODAGE Paris. [more...]

Cooling me softly: SnowRoom offers ultimate feel-good factor
Nothing electrifies the senses and sparks emotions like encountering fresh snow. [more...]
COMPANY PROFILES
Bioline Jatò

Founded in the 1970s as a school for aestheticians, it evolved as an international brand. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

An Overview of Zenoti Software
Zenoti takes care of every aspect of your business, so you can focus on what you love - helping people and changing lives. Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

09 Jun 2020

ISA Summer Business Forum

The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland
10-12 Jun 2020

Piscina & Wellness Mexico

Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City, Mexico
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
SPA BUSINESS
SPA OPPORTUNITIES
SPA BUSINESS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2020
News   Products   Magazine
Research
Mind over matter

A new white paper reveals the scientific evidence behind numerous modalities and their impact on mental health. Editor Gerry Bodeker explains how spas can tap into this wealth of information

By Gerry Bodeker | Published in Spa Business 2019 issue 1


In October a 122-page white paper on mental wellness was unveiled to hundreds of spa and wellness professionals at the Global Wellness Summit in Italy (see SB18/4 p78). It was created in response to an upsurge of interest in mental wellness from both industry members and the general public. As Dr Ranieri Guerra from the World Health Organization notes in its introduction: “Mental, neurological and substance use disorders affect one in four people over their lifetime and one in 10 at any given time, and thus affect billions of lives globally.”

The aim of Mental Wellness: Pathways, Evidence and Horizons is to identify the many complementary interventions which are scientifically proven to help enhance people’s mental wellbeing and happiness. There was a lot of existing research and it’s taken the Mental Wellness Initiative – a Global Wellness Institute action group – a year and a half to pull everything together. But finally there’s a body of evidence on a wide range of modalities – from massage, aroma, sound and light therapy to movement and exercise, mindfulness and nutrition, and the benefits that these offer for mental wellbeing.

Many of the therapies are already available in spas and the white paper now showcases evidence to support future innovation. Facilities have an opportunity to act as a safe entry point into these wellness modalities which support mental wellbeing and happiness that may be unknown, and perhaps untrusted, outside of the spa setting.

Proven modalities
Massage is one of the common spa services highlighted in the white paper for its proven effectiveness on anything from pain and cancer to headaches and infant care. Information was taken from the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and a 2010 meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials concluded that massage therapy may also help to reduce depression.

The US National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy references a range of studies showing, among other effects, the stress-reducing properties of sage oil, immune-modifying effect of eucalyptus oil, the role of peppermint oil in counteracting neuralgia, and the combination of peppermint and caraway oil in enhancing the quality of life of people suffering from dyspepsia.

Elsewhere, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that since 1970, there have been have been 19,000 studies published conducted on various aspects of meditation and its benefits.

We also identified many beneficial mental wellness pathways that are not typically found in spas, but which have potential for innovation and rejuvenation of the spa experience. These include laughter yoga – Google it! – art therapy, journaling and the influence of nature.

As it turns out, social laughter, seems to release endorphins associated with feelings of wellbeing and heightened mood. Oxford University researchers in the UK conducted a series of experiments and found that pain thresholds – an indicator for endorphin release – were significantly higher after laughter. They suggest that “laughter, through an endorphin-mediated opiate effect, may play a crucial role in social bonding”.

Group support and social connectedness are also foundational in maintaining a state of mental wellness.

For spas in areas of rich cultural heritage, there’s the opportunity to partner with local experts to build new, culturally important offerings. All cultures have clear dietary, exercise and other health practices encoded in their ways of living. Uncovering these traditional wellness practices can transform our understanding of the way human physiology works and the energetic basis of wellbeing.

Researching the spa experience
In the second section of the white paper, we drill down into the spa experience itself and find there’s an emerging body of science backing up claims that it benefits mental wellness.

In 2016, doctors Elissa Epel, Deepak Chopra and colleagues found highly significant changes resulting from a ayurvedic detox/rejuvenation programme known as panchakarma. These include a reduction in many metabolites which are risk factors for metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It also found that a break of just six days sets off genetic changes which can boost the immune system, decrease symptoms of depression and dementia and reduce stress (see SB16/4 p91).

In Australia, RMIT professor Marc Cohen and his team’s study on 4,265 mostly female respondents using thermal bathing spas found that “relaxation”, “peace and tranquility”, “indulgence” and “escape” were the most important motivators for bathing. Most respondents reported general health benefits (98 per cent) and better sleep (82 per cent) from bathing. Significant benefits were reported for back pain, arthritis, stress/anxiety, depression and insomnia (see SB17/2 p56).

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease project in Finland examined 2,315 men aged 42-60 over a five-year period. It found that increased frequency of sauna bathing – four to seven times a week for 30 minutes at a time – is associated with a reduced risk of heart-related disease, death and all-cause mortality. Sauna sessions have also been linked to lower risks of dementia (see SB17/1 p108).

In other research, a French study found that levels of anxiety and depression in 250 women who had breast cancer treatment were reduced by a two-week, multi-modality spa programme. Stronger and longer lasting effects were especially noted in reductions in depression.

What does this mean to spas?
So. How can spas harness this new flood of knowledge? I’ve often argued that spas have the potential to be the organisational face of wellness. Some destination spas, like Lapinha in Brazil, Brenners Park, in Germany and Kamalaya in Thailand, already are. They offer a wider range of wellness modalities under one roof that can’t be found in any other setting. Others focus more on massage and bodywork – but there’s much more than this available to enliven the spa world and its offering to clients, and the white paper highlights the many different evidence-based pathways which can be used.

Nowadays there are so many centres for yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc, that it’s not necessary for spas to employ therapists directly. Bringing visiting practitioners in and building a marketing plan around them can breathe new life into the spa business.  

The wealth of information, available freely at globalwellnessinstitute.org, can be drawn on to support the science behind spa modalities. This can be shared with customers, published in magazine and online articles as well as in marketing materials, and shared via educational sessions.

There are opportunities to target new markets, such as parents-to-be. A section on The First 1,000 Days of Life offers evidence on how wellness approaches that future parents engage with are predictors of the mental and physical wellbeing of their children in adulthood.

Or partnerships could be formed with existing community groups and local enterprises, such as those focused on older adults. Dance, tai chi, meditation and yoga all are supported by scientific evidence as reducing many conditions associated with ageing such as risk of falling, anxiety and depression, early onset dementia.

The white paper also places an emphasis on spa staff being treated with the same consideration as guests and that a code of ethics for spas is called for.

Finally, there’s the opportunity for spas and spa groups to begin partnering with local and international researchers to uncover new areas of evidence about the value of spa experiences. Here the focus is not only our physical health but especially on mental wellness and living a life in balance and happiness.

Farris Bad opens 100-person events sauna

Download a free copy of Mental Wellness: Pathways, Evidence and Horizons from the Global Wellness Institute website: globalwellnessinstitute.org

Gerry Bodeker

Gerry Bodeker is chair of the GWI’s Mental Wellness Initiative and editor of its mental wellness white paper.

Email: [email protected]

Gerry Bodeker
The evidence highlighted in the white paper can be shared with customers, published in articles and used in educational sessions
Attracting older adults: movement classes decrease the risk of falling, anxiety and depression Credit: Ulza/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
A Deepak Chopra study suggests that a six-day retreat can help with stress and depression
Frequent sauna visits are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia Credit: nd3000/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
LATEST NEWS
Chiva-Som wellness resort to reopen on 12 June
Luxury Thai wellness resort Chiva-Som in Hua Hin, Thailand has announced it will reopen its doors on 12 June 2020, following closure due to the global pandemic.
COVID-19 has kickstarted a consumer focus on self-care, says Anna Bjurstam
The spa and wellness industry is set to witness a renewed interest in self-care, according to Anna Bjurstam, Six Senses wellness pioneer.
Made for Life Organics inks deal with Amazon in 'natural strategic step'
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, skincare brand Made for Life Organics has signed a deal to sell its products via Amazon while spas are closed.
Global Wellness Day 2020 to be celebrated in over 150 countries via 24-hour live stream
Due to the global pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on health and a spotlight shone on wellness. On 13 June 2020 the ninth annual Global Wellness Day will be hosted using a 24-hour live stream to highlight the importance of wellness.
Plans revealed for luxury spa resort at ‘Heart chakra of the earth’ in Hungary
Architecture practice Johannes Torpe Studios has unveiled the first glimpses of the Buda Resort; a luxury spa resort located in the Visegrad Hills of Hungary and inspired by the spiritual symbolism of its setting.
Webinar roundup: Reopening, sauna science and mental wellness
With lockdown measures gradually beginning to ease around the world, webinars have focused on looking to the future of wellness and preparing spas for reopening. Sessions have also focused on sauna science, mental wellness and business strategies in a COVID-19 landscape.
‘No room for error’ during spas reopenings, say Pitsikalis and Ryan
Globally, spas have only got one opportunity to get reopening right, says Frank Pitsikalis, chair of the ISPA Foundation board of directors.
ISPA announces virtual Spa Reopening Town Hall series
ISPA has announced it’s hosting a series of virtual Spa Reopening Town Halls to share insights and observations of spa leaders who’ve reopened businesses as lockdown eases.
Surviving and thriving: a GWS masterclass from Cathy Feliciano-Chon
Being open to failure will help businesses survive in the Coronavirus landscape, according to Cathy Feliciano-Chon, founder of Hong Kong-based brand comms agency, CatchOn.
Dunphy, Trieste and Verbruggen team up to assist wellness businesses during reopening phase
Industry figures Maggy Dunphy, Diane Trieste and Liz Verbruggen have collaborated to create an industry resource – called The SOS Spa Project – to assist wellness businesses in preparing to welcome back guests following the Coronavirus shutdown.
Webinar roundup: insights from hospitality and health tourism
With the hospitality and health tourism sectors being closely linked to spa and wellness, Lisa Starr hops onto three of the latest webinars and picks out the points which resonate with wellbeing operators.
Lockdown micro-course provides spa and wellness professionals with a deeper understanding of dementia
Educational organisation The Power of Touch (TPOT) has launched a free digital programme aimed at deepening understanding and awareness for spa and wellness professionals around dementia.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

RKF Luxury Linen collaborates with CODAGE Paris
RKF Luxury Linen, a creator of the finest linen for spas and cosmetic brands, has announced a new collaboration with French cosmetic brand CODAGE Paris. [more...]

Cooling me softly: SnowRoom offers ultimate feel-good factor
Nothing electrifies the senses and sparks emotions like encountering fresh snow. [more...]
COMPANY PROFILES
Bioline Jatò

Founded in the 1970s as a school for aestheticians, it evolved as an international brand. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

An Overview of Zenoti Software
Zenoti takes care of every aspect of your business, so you can focus on what you love - helping people and changing lives. Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

09 Jun 2020

ISA Summer Business Forum

The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland
10-12 Jun 2020

Piscina & Wellness Mexico

Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City, Mexico
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2020

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS