I’m a worrier by nature. For as long as I can remember I’ve been anxious about things such as fire, and plane crashes (though this one has pretty much disappeared), and a million other things. Over the years I’ve developed ways to assuage my worries, and sometimes my over-prepared nature has come in handy – I’m actually really great in a crisis because I’ve already played out all the outcomes in my head so all I do in the moment is act. So while I may check a campfire a couple of extra times to make sure it’s *really* out, my worrywart nature doesn’t usually affect my daily life. However, in the last few years I have noticed that somehow I’ve become a stress sponge. Unconsciously, I absorb the worries and stresses of others and make them my own. It’s beyond being empathetic, and it’s definitely not good for my health, but I don’t seem to realize that I’m doing it until too late.
The anxiety and stress were compounded by my fear of taking “me-time” worried that it would seem selfish – so I dragged my introvert self to events even when my tank was empty, agreed to babysit even when I desperately needed a night to myself, and tried to never say no to a request for help. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t sustainable – and I wound up depressed and on the edge of a full on burnout, and then my mother passed away, and the grief nearly consumed me.
While helping others is one of my tried and true coping skills, there are times when you just need to focus on yourself and I’ve been learning how to tell the difference over the past couple years. Music is one of my favourite ways to escape – put on some headphones and drown out the world. Reading also works, though people are much more tempted to interrupt me when I’m reading versus when I’ve got headphones one. Going for walks (with or without the dog) is a great stress reliever. Bike rides – especially now that I have a gel comfort seat – are another great way to de-stress. Of course, board games are always a great way to chill with friends – but they’re also a social situation so that can be tricky as social situations often make me more stressed out.
This past fall, I had the opportunity to go to Blue Mountain Resort for the Blissdom Canada Social Media Conference. I hadn’t been to Blue Mountain in at least 20 years – and the facility was amazing and gorgeous. I don’t downhill ski, though I have plans to learn at some point – now that I’ve been assured there won’t be a repeat of the whole “skied right into the snow fence because I totally hadn’t learned how to stop yet” incident of 1990. The hotels on site are all gorgeous, the conference facilities were amazing, and the outdoor activities were top notch. I had great plans on the Sunday after the conference to do the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster – but Mother Nature had other plans in mind. (I’m still so appreciative of the wonderful desk staff at the Blue Mountain Inn who lent me a snow brush so I could brush off my car to get home.)
A few days earlier in the conference we had spent an afternoon bonding with some of our fellow attendees at one of the many excursions both on and off site. I was extremely fortunate to get to experience Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain. I have friends who go annually and who had raved about it but I didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. Having been, I now totally get it. Now I’m that person who won’t shut up about what an amazing experience Scandinavian Baths are. I only got a picture of the entrance because the baths themselves are a no photo zone (also a no talking zone – which was hard but worth it) but they were nice enough to give me a little USB card with amazing photos.
You start in the Finnish Sauna, Eucalyptus Steam Bath (room), or one of the 3 hot baths(I couldn’t do the hottest of the 3 but the other two were wonderful). The heat opens up your pores, heats up the body, and lets you sweat out impurities. After 10 or so minutes in the heat, you do a cold plunge (you probably cold stay longer but I didn’t) to close your pores in one of the cold pools, stand under the Nordic waterfall (brr), or take a cold shower. In the winter you can even roll in the snow (I’m not sure I’d want to try that). You follow the cold plunge up with relaxation – there are Muskoka chairs, fire pits, hammocks, and a gorgeous solarium – where you chill out for 10-15 minutes before doing the cycle again. I did the cycle 4 times during my visit and fell more in love with each rotation. The cold does take a bit of courage but knowing there’s a warm robe waiting for you is a huge help (either bring your own or rent one of their awesome fluffy robes). You’re also given 2 towels to dry off. It was drizzling the day I went but the towel / robe racks are covered so they stayed dry. I didn’t have time for a massage but I have it on good authority they’re amazing. It’s on the list for my next visit for sure.
I left Scandinave completely relaxed – and considering I was presenting the following day at the conference, that’s saying something! I also swear it helped me kick the last vestiges of a cold to the curb. I loved every minute of my experience at the spa and am planning to go again next month near my birthday for the summer experience. Relaxation is a funny thing – you don’t realize just how tense you are until you relax a little. The word is Middle English via (surprise!) Latin in its origin: re (expressing intensive force) combined with laxus ‘lax, loose.’. So to relax is really to loosen up – literally. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at my computer in the last few months and a day of rest and relaxation up at the spa seems like the perfect antidote.
Relax (re·lax) Verb
- To become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff.
- To stop feeling nervous, anxious, or worried.
- To spend time resting or doing something enjoyable especially after you have been doing work
On that note, I’ve been working hard on this post and it’s time to relax!
~~~~Note: this post was not sponsored by Scandinave in any way – I really do love it there! ~~~~