If menopause is getting you down, maybe it’s time for a spa break
Are you feeling hot and bothered? You’re not the only one: one in three women are going through the menopause at any one time. That’s 13 million menopausal women in the UK alone!
If you’re avoiding HRT or want extra help managing the symptoms of menopause, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests a healthy diet and lifestyle, and plenty of relaxation and rest can help.
So, perhaps now is the time to prioritise yourself and hit a ‘life reset’. With a variety of treatment and classes, a day or two in a spa could be just what you need…
Try group relaxation therapy
A Swedish study looked at a group of women who had a 12-week programme of relaxation therapy. At the end of the programme the number of hot flushes dropped by five a day. This seems like the perfect reason to book in regular but perhaps shorter spa time. Many spas offer a morning spa session at an accessible price, with the added bonus that spas tend to be quiet on weekday mornings. Go for a swim, chill out in a relaxation room or book in for a meditation session.
Try: The Champneys spas have excellent pools, experience rooms and grounds to enjoy on a sunny day. The flagship property, Champneys Tring, has a relaxation hideaway and a Marine and Wellness Spa, the first of its kind in the UK.
Do certain scents evoke happy memories for you? A citrus scent could bring back memories of Mediterranean holidays or rose could highlight memories of summers in the garden. That’s part of the power of aromatherapy. A small-scale study in Iran found that in a group of women who smelled lavender daily over a 12-week period, there was a significant decrease in the amount of hot flushes experienced. Quite a few spas have lavender gardens in their grounds, and many use lavenders in their treatments.
Try: Lucknam Park, a grand and gorgeous country house hotel in Wiltshire. The property is set in 500 acres of listed parkland with a formal circular Lavender garden on the west lawn. The spa is one of the best in the UK with a 25-metre pool lit by a firewall and ESPA treatments.
There are many different kinds of massage, each springing from broadly different origins and aims but most involve stroking, kneading, warming, rolling and pressing skin and muscles. Whatever your ailment, there will be a massage that suits you. A Korean study found that after eight weeks of aromatherapy massage, a group of women reported a significantly lower total menopause index than those without. If you’re looking for deep relaxation, try a hot stone or relaxation massage. If you want to ease aches and pains, try deep tissue or hydro massage. If you want to hydrate dry skin, try a massage which uses a balm rather than an oil.
Try: Marvellous massages can be found all over the UK, but Pure Massage treatments at Dormy House in the Cotswolds are some of the best. Created by Beata Aleksandrowicz, the technique allows your therapists to attune and tailor your massage to your exact needs.
Exercise is one of the cornerstones of managing menopausal symptoms. Regular sustained exercise like swimming or running is generally recommended rather than infrequent high impact exercise which can make symptoms worse. A study from Minnesota University showed that aerobic exercise three times a week for three months led to improvements in sleep quality, insomnia and depression. As well as beautifully designed pools and gorgeous grounds, some spas offer exercise retreats such as dancercise, Nordic walking and Pilates breaks.
Try: Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Spa in Leicestershire, a grand dame of the spa world, offers exercise breaks throughout the year. Dancercise, yoga and Pilates breaks are held regularly but they have also held excellent retreats on running and mindful exercise, so keep an eye on their website.
Discover your inner yogi
Yoga might conjure up images of people doing headstands, back bends or contorting themselves into impossible shapes. But, don't be intimidated; the sheer amount of yoga classes available means there are movements and sequences to suit every shape, age and ability. A study at the University of California showed that women who took a 90-minute yoga session once a week for eight weeks reported an average drop in hot flushes by 30.8%. Many spas offer yoga classes and some even offer one-to-one yoga tuition and yoga breaks.
Try: The Spa at Ribby Hall in Lancashire offers regular two-night yoga breaks which include yoga and meditation classes, spa access, healthy meals and accommodation for £205 per person – one of the best value breaks on the market. The spa is built around their large Aqua Thermal Journey with 10 different thermal experiences, a hydrotherapy pool and hot tub overlooking a lovely spa garden.
Caitlin Dalton is the Editor of The Good Spa Guide - your expert guide to the best spas and treatments.