Taking the Edge Off with Aromatherapy for Stress Relief in Your Practice
Mental health has become a highly discussed aspect of the spa and wellness industry. Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, made the following comment about the relevance of wellness amidst growing geo-political uncertainties, digital overloads, rising costs of living, demanding jobs, longer commutes and family responsibilities:
“As things become more uncertain, wellness gets more important.”
Clients today are more in need of stress relief than ever before, and every spa has an opportunity to stand out from competitors by going the extra mile to incorporate meaningful stress relief solutions in every service. Aromatherapy for stress relief is one way this can be introduced to almost any service. It helps the spa build a unique brand, creates a memorable experience for the guests, and inspires client loyalty and increased referrals.
Customized Aromatherapy for Stress Relief
Consider the following advice from Steve Cohen, Vice President of Insights at MMGY Global: “Six in ten millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things. Make your spa experiences memorable. Move your aromatherapy from the backseat menu item to the front seat of your spa experiences with the guest as the driver. Addressing stress relief, insomnia, depression, pain and other physical and mental issues with blends of essential oils capitalizes on what the technology-driven guest wants and what they need.”
Aromatherapy for stress relief can easily be implemented into all spa experiences. Whether essential oils are used in a treatment or a relaxing blend is simply diffused in the treatment room to uplift or relax clients, it creates a deeper level of connection between the spa and its clients and increases their well-being.
Creating the ambiance
When clients enter the spa for a relaxing getaway from everyday life, they have certain expectations of the ambiance — soft, relaxing music, eye pleasing décor, cozy treatment rooms and a certain “spa smell.” The luxurious, gentle aroma of essential oils that greets them as they enter the treatment room and lulls them into that wonderful state of calm is essential!
Place a diffusor with a universally pleasing blend in the reception area. If you are not well- versed in using aromatherapy for stress relief, select something pre-blended, as any single essential oil is not therapeutic for everyone. Consider the age and gender of your clientele, as different demographics experience different types of stresses in different ways.
Essential oil blends
Present the client with a choice of three blends upon check-in and create a sensory journey. A good mix may include something citrus (clean and uplifting), something softly floral (balancing) and something woodsy (relaxing). Allow the client to smell each and choose one for inclusion in their experience. Consider the following ways to include their blend into a treatment:
While the client fills out the intake form, take their chosen blend to the treatment room and turn on the diffusor. Add a few drops to the unit, turn it on for about 5 -10 minutes before the service and close the door so that your client benefits from the desired effect instantly upon entering the room. Turn the unit off five minutes into the treatment.
Once the client is on the treatment table, add a few drops of the chosen blend to your finger pads and hold the oil over the client’s nose. Instruct the client to take three deep, relaxing breaths as an opening ritual. Move your fingers to the temples, massage gently and complete by moving up into the scalp. Using the pads of your fingers, apply small circular movements to gently massage the scalp. Finish by running your fingers through the hair before beginning the treatment. Add a drop of the blend into a few of the products used in the treatment.
Hydrolats, otherwise known as hydrosols or floral waters, are an alternative to essential oils to enhance facial therapy. Hydrolats are the by-product of the steam distillation process that produces essential oils, and they retain many of the properties of essential oils. They are versatile, have a softer smell than essential oils, and are therapeutic and safe. Hydrolats can be used in the following ways:
- Use as a replacement for toner
- Spray onto towels or bedding for fragrance
- Add a small amount to rinse water for aromatic sponges
- Put into steaming device to create aromatic steam (follow manufacturer guidelines)
- Add a few drops to customize peel off masks
- Spritz onto cotton disks to create eye compresses.
At the manicure or pedicure station, begin by treating your client to an inhalation of essential oil of their choice to add some aromatherapy for stress relief to the service. Add several drops to finger pads, holding them under the client’s nose and instruct them to breathe in deeply. Include a few drops of their chosen essential oil to the cream used for the massage portion of the treatment. Add several drops to the paraffin wax to maximize the benefit.
Treat clients to a relaxing, therapeutic, and detoxifying foot soak. Add essential oils (selected based on treatment objective) to a mix of sea salt and Epsom salt. Offer each client three options for this blend, stored in clear jars so that clients can see the bright, colorful and inviting salt options. Consider the following suggestions:
- A lavender based blend, colored purple or blue (relaxing)
- A lemongrass blend, colored yellow (stimulating)
- An herbal blend, colored green (detoxifying)
Add a couple tablespoons of the appropriate essential oil to the soak. Add the same blend to the cream used for the foot and calf massage, or create an exfoliating sea salt or sugar scrub to complement the pedicure treatment.
The reflexologist’s application of pressure to feet, hands or ears sends a calming message from the peripheral nerves in these extremities to the central nervous system, which signals the body to adjust the tension level. This enhances overall relaxation, brings internal organs and their systems into a state of optimum functioning and increases blood supply, which brings additional oxygen and nutrients to cells and enhances waste removal. It positively affects the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, immune and neuropeptide systems in the body.
Formal training is required to perform reflexology. A two-day class covers the basics, which is sufficient to add a 15-minute session to any service. It can be performed during a facial while the mask is setting, or offered as an addon to a full body massage, manicure or pedicure. If you wish to offer full service reflexology treatments, more in-depth training is required.
Upper Body Massage
Spas around the world are offering treatments such as Indian Head Massage (Champissage) and various other types of scalp massage. You can customize your own version of these scalp, neck and shoulder treatments using essential oils. Research has shown that when the scalp is stimulated via massage, chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin are released into the body. These chemicals can help improve mood, reduce stress and promote relaxation.
A relaxing massage of the scalp, neck and shoulders is a great addition to any service. It can be a complimentary component of another full service or offered as a 15-minute add-on.
A full Champissage treatment, (which requires specific training) is a stand-alone service option itself, lasting 45 minutes. For any of these upper body and head modalities, don’t forget to add a few drops of a customized essential oil blend to your massage cream or oil.
“know your client’s needs and respond accordingly.”
The Ultimate Sensory Spa Ritual
For your on-the-go clients who seek complete relaxation in limited time, offer the following 40-minute sensory journey, complete with a customized oil blend:
- Start the treatment with deep breathing and inhalation.
- Include a massage of the face, neck and shoulders, moving around the body to complete hands and lower arms to the elbows and feet to the knees.
- Finish the treatment with a relaxing back massage.
- Customize the treatment further by including facial drainage and 15 minute reflexology.
Other body treatments can be customized with essential oils in a similar fashion. For example, a body exfoliation can be customized by adding an oil of the client’s choice to the scrub.
For any type of wellness treatment that you offer, ensure you know your client’s needs and respond accordingly in your offerings. Remember, it is not what YOU prefer to give your client, but rather about your client’s wants and needs, and ensuring that they leave your spa feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and restored in both mind and body.