Andy Williams crooned “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but with those heightened expectations, all the budget-smashing gift-giving, visiting relatives, flight delays, and burned soufflés of the holiday season can turn “wonderful” into “stressful.”
“Laughter is the most powerful antidote. It’s the cure to everything,” said Cynthia Bell when I asked her how to handle the pressure of presents and the faux pas of family. Bell is spa director at Acqualina Resort and Spa on the Beach in Sunny Isles, Florida – near Miami. “If we focus on the negative, that’s what we become. Enjoy what you have. Listen to your breaths. Hear your insides instead of everything swirling around you – including your cell phone and mobile devices.”
Her associate, Kimberly Cook, spa operations manager at Acqualina, has developed a strategy to unplug, unwind and de-stress. “Relaxation is perhaps the single most important key to health and well-being. Stress is known to contribute to the development of disease. So be in the present. Unplug everything you have. Disconnect even if only for five minutes and just breathe,” she advised me. “At Acqualina we offer ESPA body oils which have the elements of frankincense, sandalwood and myrrh. Couple that with a soothing bubble bath, soft music or total silence, a candle, and 20 minutes just to sit back and think about where you are.”
Where you are – if you’re at Acqualina – is a breathtaking resort location on the Atlantic Ocean with a cascading waterfall and heated pool, and according to Bell. “We have you sit on the couch upon arrival where we bring you a welcome tray with a cool cloth and warm tea. We then tell you about the ‘journey’ you’re about to have with us and give you a healthy bento lunch.”
A visit is a worthwhile investment, according to Cook. “As a result of relaxation, many people experience more energy, better sleep, enhanced immunity, increased concentration, better problem-solving abilities, greater efficiency, smoother emotions — less anger, crying, anxiety, frustration- and less headaches and pain,” she said. Bell offered her own tips: “Simplicity is what I look forward to each day: a reflection in the water, or viewing the ocean and breathing in the salt air. Even in the northern climes you can go outside and breathe in the cold air and see the breath coming out. Notice the quietness of the cold and the beauty of the sunshine.”
She says to think of these moments as a “virtual vacation,” or a brief retreat. You may come back with a new perspective, renewed energy. If you go in reality, Acqualina is South Florida’s only five-star hotel – a 51-story tower with luxury rooms and residences- built completely open to the ocean with 400 feet of shoreline. See www.AcqualinaResort.com
Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at [email protected] or via TravelTattler.com His talk show can be heard weekday mornings in Lansing on 92.1 FM.