We love the idea of people taking measures and developing improved mental habits to keep their intellect in good health. In fact, InterContinental Hotels Group predicted “brain spas,” aka, where travelers’ desire to learn more will influence their destination decisions, as one of the global trends that was to influence 2012, noting the “market for goods and services responding to the new demand for mental stimulation is expected to grow between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015.”
Keeping the mind alert and healthy is so important, especially in the overstimulated, hyper-informational environment we live in—and in light of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we’d like to share five good-for-the-brain spa and wellness therapies to help you find mental wellbeing.
Meditation: To focus the mind
We’ve listed this self-dedicated practice of meditation in other stories, and it’s because the benefits seem to prove endless: Not only does meditation relax the body, it calms and quiets the mind; it also hones your use of mental skills to perform such acts as focusing attention on a single object for a long period of time and creating a state of pure awareness of thoughts, emotions and sensations without reacting. A University of Pennsylvania study reported long-term meditators exhibit significantly higher cerebral blood flow in brain structures associated with attention, emotion and more.
If the practice of meditation sounds daunting, try these 6 easy tips.
Ayurveda: To improve the mind
Its name means “science of life,” and the goal of Ayurveda is to achieve optimal health on all levels—physical, psychological and spiritual—by means of theories and techniques incorporating diet, herbal medicine, exercise, meditation and massage/bodywork. Preliminary pilot studies revealed positive results for Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s and more, and spas such as The Raj in Iowa have even developed programs to help prevent the onset of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Its comprehensive program, in collaboration with Alarik Arenander, Ph.D, director of the Brain Research Institute, includes an evaluation by an Ayurveda health consultant using pulse diagnosis, Maharishi rejuvenation treatments, health education classes and informational lectures, fitness activities and cooking classes.
Vibration/Sound/Light/Music & Color Therapy: To stimulate the mind
The forces of sound, light, music and color can have a deep impact—on relaxation, mood change and energy levels, to name a few—and the scientific evidence about how frequencies and vibrations affect us both physically and emotionally is vast. Look for treatments like Tibetan sound massage using singing bowls; Kohler’s VibraAcoustic baths, where sound waves broadcasted through the water are choreographed to music and chromatherapy; and Miraval’s unique, multisensory Taiz Sensorium, integrating vibrational medicine, music therapy, gentle human touch and aromatic oils, or its Shuniya Sound Therapy healing ceremony(right), which infuses sound and vibration using Tibetan bowls, Kundalini yoga, gong baths and tuning forks combined with Thai massage, Chi nei tsang and shiatsu.
Exercise: To strengthen the mind
Less than one-third of Americans meet the minimal recommendations for physical activity as outlined by the CDC, ACSM and AHA expert panels—a scary statistic, considering the fact that engaging regularly in any type of exercise, from yoga and tai chi to hiking and qigong—can help to strengthen the mind. Even light activity like walking has proven to help achieve better brainpower.
Sleep Therapy: To rest the mind
Our 24/7, “plugged-in” world makes it difficult to achieve the proper amount of rest our minds and bodies need to function to our maximum level; in fact, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours a night, while research suggests seven-eight are needed—and not enough shut eye is linked to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer (not to mention grouchiness!). As well, a University of Manitoba report concluded that lack of restful sleep in older people leads to attention and memory problems.
We’ve touted sleep therapy programs like LaSource’s Sleep School and Sha Wellness Clinic’s Sleep Well program for awakening the importance of attaining proper rest, as well as treatments found at New York day spas like The Royal Sphatika Spa, an innovator in sleep treatments, and YeloSpa, the pioneer of the napping pod.
Share your fave therapies for mental wellbeing in the comments. Plus, use SpaFinder® Wellness Gift Cards—including our current buy one, get one 30% off promo—towards all of these experiences for a healthy mind!
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