Practise self-care during these trying times amid the Covid-19 outbreak with tips from leading wellness spas and resorts
For many, escaping from the stresses of city living used to be a matter of booking a flight to an island paradise and checking in to a wellness retreat for a peaceful respite. However, that is not an option for now, while we are practising social distancing and staying home to flatten the curve of Covid-19. This social isolation, in itself, can also take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing, on top of the anxiety caused by these strange and uncertain times.
To help individuals cope through this stressful period, wellness resorts and spas are going online with digital content offering informative tips and advice for health, as well as offering a form of escapism from our homes. We share some of the top tips from Aman Resorts; Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas; Belmond; Chiva-Som International Health Resort; and Como Hotels and Resorts.
Aman Resorts: Self-care through touch
Aman’s approach to wellness shares the holistic outlooks of ancient systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine—the balance between mind, body and spirit. Below, Amanzoe’s acupuncturist and bodywork expert Zoe Nash offers relaxing massage tips to improve the digestive system and blood circulation:
“Facial massage relaxes the nervous system, eases the mind, lifts mood and relieves the many tension-holding muscles of the face. Gently rub the temples with fingertips in a circular motion, then press and massage the jawline in small circles for a minute or so until a feeling of relaxation sets in.
With many of us more sedentary right now, massaging the belly can be a great way to keep the digestive system moving. Always do this on an empty stomach (maybe before bed or on waking). Gently rub a little massage oil on to the abdomen, then massage clockwise, up the right side of the stomach, into the ribs, across to the left ribs, and down the left side, into the middle and down. Follow this motion, pausing to work longer in areas of tightness. Breathe out any tension as the massage progresses; this will all help promote peristalsis and stimulate a sluggish colon.
A foot massage with aromatherapy oil before bed can have different benefits. The pulse points on our soles are where essential oils are absorbed most easily. The sweet spot is the ‘kidney point’, two-thirds up from the heel, right in the middle, soft part of the bottom of the foot. Mood-lifting peppermint is thought to help with headaches. Lavender relaxes the mind and promotes better sleep. Fennel is a friend to our digestive system and can ease overthinking minds.”
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas: The beauty of sleep
Embodying the Anantara philosophy of “without end”, Anantara Spa offers wellness journeys of mind, body and soul-rejuvenating experiences. And as we spend our days cooped up at home, the journey continues with its experts sharing their wisdom around the globe in the form of bite-sized video content and healthy living recommendations across social media. Dr Serge Landrieu, Master of Wellness at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort, Thailand shares his advice for a good night’s sleep:
“For a fully restorative sleep, it is best to stop eating after lunch and then break this fast with breakfast. If you can, try to keep a window of 16 to 18 hours without eating. This is a form of intermittent fasting. Do not eat food before going to sleep—if you are hungry, take a little sip of oil.
Going to bed and falling asleep early is essential as the hours of sleep sustained before midnight count the most for reviving the whole immune system. To wind down for sleep, establish an evening ritual before you go to bed. This can include meditating, practising gratitude, praying, or slowing down your breath with Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises).
To ensure that you sleep through the night, stop drinking from five to six pm, and drink just half a glass of water before bed to avoid waking in the middle of the night for the bathroom. Jumpstart your day by planning to do something you enjoy so that you wake up with a purpose.”
Follow more wellness content from Anantara on Instagram.
Belmond: Starting the day right
Belmond believes in “Good Living” through experiences that enrich the mind, body and soul. The hospitality brand has been bringing its multi-faceted experiences online with a ‘Digital Care Package’, inviting Belmond friends to join activities hosted by its Experience Makers. Wellness experts Nadia Narain and Katia Narain-Philipps share an exclusive morning ritual below:
“Sit on the edge of the bed, with your spine straight and your feet flat on the ground. Keep your hands resting on your lap and your eyes closed. Feel your breath as it moves in and out of your nose.
Listen: Inhale, and as you exhale notice all the sounds around you. Continue this for a few breaths.
Smell: On your next breath, inhale and exhale noticing the scents around you. Take a few breaths with your attention on what you can smell.
See: On your next breath, inhale and as you exhale, open your eyes and notice your surroundings. Take a few breaths as your eyes softly open and become aware of the colours and the light. Then close your eyes.
Taste: On your next breath, inhale and as you exhale, become aware of your lips, your tongue and the rest of the mouth. Take notice of any tastes or flavours.
Feel: Finally be aware of your feet on the ground, your hands on your lap and your seat on the bed. Continue this for a few breaths.
As your senses come alive and you feel present in the moment, look forward to the new adventures and experiences that await you.”
Follow more wellness content from Belmond on Instagram.
Chiva-Som International Health Resort: Boosting immunity through nutrition
World-renowned health and wellness resort Chiva-Som transforms health through six modalities in wellness—spa, physiotherapy, holistic health, fitness, aesthetic beauty, and nutrition. During these challenging times, it continues to support wellness goals through complimentary online consultations with its experts, as well as on-demand content from recipes to fitness tutorials online. Below, Renee Grandi, nutritionist and naturopath at Chiva-Som shares immunity-boosting ingredients to include in your diet:
“The best way to boost your immune system is on a whole-food, low sugar diet. The more nutrient-dense foods you can get in on the daily, the better. There are five significantly potent immunity-boosting nutrients that will give your body an extra wall of defence—zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, and selenium.”
To maintain good health, Renee advises drinking two litres of filtered water daily. On top of that, one to two cups of organic bone broth as well as a super green juice containing kale, turmeric, ginger, lemon, cucumber and celery will ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
The nutritionist also recommends one source of probiotic-rich food—such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso soup or yoghurt—a day, or a good quality probiotic. You should also avoid caffeine, preservatives, additives, food colourings, processed foods and sugar in your diet.
Follow more wellness content from Chiva-Som on Instagram.
(Related: The Best Wellness Retreats to Visit in Asia)
Como Hotels and Resorts: Breathing the stress away
Heavily influenced by the principles of Ayurveda, Como's wellness programmes, or “retreats for change” are adjusted to each individual’s needs, and guests are educated on adopting lifestyle practices and healthier diets for a continuous journey towards wellbeing. With the pandemic keeping us indoors, the wellness brand has been sharing tips to maintain our health at home. Here are three Ayurvedic breathing techniques that can help you cope with anxiety:
1. Basic breath awareness
Lying on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, place your hand on your abdomen and breathe normally. At this point you don’t have to do anything; just observe the rise and fall of your breath and be aware of any tension you might feel.
Then, start to consciously make your breathing as relaxed and smooth as possible. You can take a slight pause between each inhale and exhale if this helps.
Bring your attention to the movement of your body: you will notice the way your abdomen is expanding and contracting with the rise and fall of your breath.
Try to actively expand the abdomen on the ‘in’ breath and contract the abdomen on the ‘out’ breath to support the natural breathing process.
Continue for another six to 12 breaths.
2. Sitali Pranayama (The cooling breath)
Settle into a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or on a chair, ensuring your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. Close your eyes and take in a few natural breaths.
Open your mouth and form an ‘O’ shape. Form a straw shape with your tongue by curling in each side towards the centre and inhale through your tongue.
At the end of your inward breath, bring your tongue back inside your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose.
Repeat for eight to 12 breaths.
3. Ujjayi Pranayama (The ocean breath)
This breathing technique reduces the amount of air that you inhale through your throat, encouraging longer and more controlled inhalations and exhalations.
Get into a comfortable cross-legged position, relax your shoulders and close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath and start to breathe through your mouth.
Start to slightly contract your throat so that the air makes a slight rasping noise on the exhale. Once you have perfected this, do the same constriction of the throat on the inhale.
Close your mouth and start to breathe through your nose, creating the same constriction in the throat as when you were breathing through your mouth.
As you breathe through your nose, you will continue to make a loud exhalation noise.
Follow more wellness content from Como on Instagram.