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Relax to boost your wellbeing

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

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WHEN it comes to giving advice about looking and feeling good, Hannah Butland knows what she is talking about.

A trained therapist she is also spa manager at Exeter's Magdalen Chapter Hotel.

She and her team have many years of experience and know what steps we need to take to improve our skin, shape and general wellbeing.

It doesn't have to be a chore. A little extra sleep, drinking water – and a whole lot of pampering – can do wonders to make you feel human again.

"Many clients come to the spa looking for a cure for dull and tired skin, assuming the ageing process is to blame," said Hannah. "Quite often the answer to their lacklustre complexion is in fact dehydration.

"Keeping hydrated is really important. You should be drinking around two litres of water a day."

Water makes up about two thirds of the weight of a healthy body and the slightest imbalance can lead to lethargy, mood swings and a lack of elasticity in the skin.

"Rest and relaxation is also very important," Hannah added. "Stress and sleep deprivation can lead to fluid retention, which can make you feel tired, bloated and lethargic."

In fact, scientists from the University of Washington have just revealed sleeping for fewer than seven hours a night "encourages" the genes that cause weight gain.

"Turn your bathroom into a sanctum for rest, warmth and privacy before bedtime.

"Light calming candles and create a dreamy, relaxing bath using sleep-enhancing essential oils like lavender, jasmine or sandalwood," Hannah advises.

"Read before you go to sleep to help you relax more and try to sleep in complete darkness."

While you may think booking a visit to your favourite spa for a massage is just a treat or indulgence, a regular massage can in fact be a powerful ally in your healthcare.

Experts estimate that upwards of 90 per cent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress.

"While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress," said Hannah.

"This in turn can help to decrease anxiety, enhanced sleep quality, give greater energy, improve concentration, increase circulation and reduce fatigue.

"A massage also helps to enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow – the body's natural defence system. It also helps pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation, reducing spasms and cramping and of course it improves the condition of the body's largest organ – the skin.

"Although it is often perceived as just a pampering treatment, a massage has many, many health benefits," Hannah added. "People should have one every two weeks."

And there are ways you can help your wellbeing at home. A good spa therapist is never far away from a body brush.

"A brush a day keeps dry skin away," said Hannah.

It also helps to improve circulation. "You can either dry brush before you get in a shower or bath or use a body scrub in the water. Whatever is easiest for you.

"You just need to get in the habit of doing it. Make sure you brush in an upward and outward motion.

"It has got to be an inside out approach to looking and feeling good, so eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise is also important."

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