Stressed clients seek calm and serenity to renew their spirit, and the spa is the perfect place to de-stress. The normal stresses of life are a lot to manage on a daily basis – add to that a historic pandemic, and the stress people are experiencing is one of epic proportions. Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations – perceived or real. The body’s response to stress is the flight or fight response. During this response, the heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tense up, and blood pressure rises. The body is equipped to handle small amounts of stress, but the consequences of long-term stress are monumental. And, to say it is a matter of life and death is no exaggeration, as long-term stress can lead to emotional issues like depression, feeling out of control, irritability, and low self-esteem. It can also include, behavioral issues, such as excessive drinking, eating too much or too little, overspending, or drug abuse, as well as physical issues, like fatigue, headaches, chest pain, muscle pain, digestion problems, lowered immune response, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, obesity, acne, eczema, hair loss, or high blood pressure. Cognitive issues, like constant worry, racing thoughts, disorganization, inability to focus, poor judgment, a pessimistic attitude, and the inability to have a positive outlook is also a possible outcome.
The good news is it not hopeless. When faced with stress, it is how an individual manages it that matters. Yes, a client should chat with their doctor, mental health specialist, or life coach is essential, but there are many ways to manage the stress that will lessen the chance of negative consequences.
A go-to for many people is a day at the spa. A trip to the spa is two-fold of services and relaxation. Many people choose spa services to unwind, others need a service, but for most, it is both. Spas are a synonym for relaxation. How can s service providers, decrease their client’s stress? Once the ultimate relaxing client experience is created, clients will leave the space feeling tranquil and will return often and likely for life.
Calm the client before they arrive. The client has saved their money or set aside valuable time and is anticipating the experience long before their appointment time. Do not crush their expectations but instead increase them. It all starts with the first point of contact, which may be a phone call or an online booking. The message is, the skin care professional is here to take care of the client’s every need so anticipate what they may need and assure them a feeling of calm and renewed energy – free of stress. Heighten the anticipation. With the descriptions of the treatments, the images of the spa space, and a calm receptionist. The result will be suspense and the excitement of looking forward to an experience that will eradicate one’s stress. In the unprecedented times of COVID-19, stating with a clear safety plan will calm the nerves of clients who may be anxious. Who is otherwise looking forward to a relaxing experience, only to be replaced by anxiety over a virus exposure is not the goal. Calm the anxiety by educating clients on the spa’s clear set plan. This may include cleaning and sanitation plans, like the use of an air purifier with a HEPA filter or ultraviolet light to have fresh air cycling throughout and masks that all staff and clients will wear, or maybe the staff undergoes regular COVID testing. Whatever the plan, follow the state rules and regulations for the state and be sure clients know the plan. This will put them at ease to be able to relax and de-stress.
ACQUIRE THE RIGHT STAFF
The culture of the spa environment is one of the most important aspects in offering the ultimate relaxing experience. A negative staff member will contaminate the team like a fast-spreading disease, and this will directly affect the client experience. A characteristic for a spa staff member is a placid, easy-going, and calming yet efficient personality. In a busy work environment, stressful moments will happen – the response is key. Provide rigorous staff training on how to deal with issues that will inevitably arise. Training spa staff should include even minute details from scheduling to check out and problem-solving. Offer world-class service by giving a warm welcome, anticipating guest needs, and providing a fond farewell – simple but to the point. Top-rated spas around the world all look for ways to free clients from stress, from Instagram-worthy tubs, memorable facials, and relaxation that leaves clients feeling like butter. But, even the most luxurious treatments can be tarnished by a stressed or irritable staff member. Both extremely important in setting the mood, the reception staff are the first and last contact. These staff members are also responsible for creating solutions and problem solving any issue or need that comes to their attention. Exhibiting a positive spa culture and lasting impression involves crucial training. Train spa staff with client comfort as the number one priority, including smart scheduling. One example is to book a waxing prior to a facial. During the facial service, the client is relaxed. Do not undo the relaxation by following it with a Brazilian wax. Another example is to have appointments arrive early, at least 15 minutes prior to their appointment time. This will leave a cushion. If the spa has a relaxation area, ask the client to come 30 minutes prior to their appointment to leave room for tea and time to unwind. A late client stresses everyone –the client, receptionist, and the service provider. Adding a time cushion to account for parking or traffic is a smart, yet simple way to reduce the chance of a late client.
The service providers are the main dish. A facial that remains in a client’s memory for years to come is the experience that has raised the bar that now all future facials are judged against. The aesthetician who offers a skillset of facial techniques that can transform one’s skin is invaluable. Add to that the touch of calm, peace, and tranquility and pass it along to the client.
PROMOTE A CALM ENVIRONMENT
Chill vibes only is not just a catchphrase; the environment one is in effects how they feel. Not every spa will have a Japanese-style indoor pool surrounded by lanterns, but a vibe can capture the same sense of serenity. The created space for clients should be carefully thought out to the very last detail, all focused on a space of calm and escape that clients will remember. For example, the color scheme likely will not be primary colors but instead, colors that reduce stress like baby blue, light grey, or violet. Choose music that is calming and listen to it – do not assume by the title that it will be acceptable. Whales and birds can span from relaxing to easily annoying. Offerings should also induce calm like hot tea, a cozy robe, a heated bed, or floors, clean light scents from essential oils, and low warm lighting are details to include. Cater to all the senses – what clients will see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. During the treatment, add extra details like a warm rolled towel under their neck, a scalp massage, and most importantly, keep conversation to a minimum. Of course, respond in a warm, friendly manner, but do not initiate a conversation, especially on topics not relating to the client or the treatment. The space and the service should be memorable in the best way possible for the client.
RECOGNIZING THE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
When individuals are experiencing stress or anxiety, there are many signs that vary from person to person, but all point back to stress. Irritability, being unable to focus, and restlessness are common. If faced with an irritable, the client understands it has little to do with the professional. Remain calm and warm. This client needs to destress the most. Physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sleep issues, weight loss or weight gain, or even muscular pain are also indicators of stress. Include these issues in the client consultation. Ask if they are usually hot or cold, a heated bed plus blankets and a steamer may be extremely relaxing for most, but for the person who is always hot, this same experience could be awful. Pay attention to the client’s body language to observe signs of stress or discomfort. Customize the spa service to the client and ask questions on the intake form. Notice if there is tension in their shoulders, jawline, or hands and show those areas a little extra tender-loving-care. Check-in with the client once or twice throughout the service. Not everyone will speak up if something is uncomfortable, but if asked, they will respond. Keeping the client comfortable will continue to free them of stress and not increase it.
EDUCATE ON DE-STRESSING
Whether your business is a wellness center or a medical spa, many clients are likely experiencing stress. Offering education and support through a webinar, a social media post, a blog, or even an event on ways to release and decrease stress will be helpful and supportive. The spa environment is about wellness. Live it and practice forms of stress relief and encourage clients to do the same.
Breathing exercises are one of the quickest ways to calm the body, lower blood pressure, and heart rate. There are countless podcasts or YouTube videos on different breathing techniques. It can be as easy as inhale for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds-repeating five times.
Meditation is a powerful way to decrease stress and increase a positive, hopeful, and calm spirit. Meditation can be guided, simply music, or a space and quiet time. The benefits of meditation can occur in as little as five minutes, but a 30-minute meditation will be very beneficial, especially if done as a daily practice. Some people say they cannot meditate because their thoughts wander. That is okay – it is part of the process. Meditation can reduce pain, anxiety, and provides a sense of calm and balance.
Yoga or relaxing stretches are a good way to increase strength and flexibility but can reduce pain, promote sleep quality, and relieve stress and anxiety.
Walking, running, and swimming are very good to release stress, lower blood pressure, and improve mental and physical health. Do it outside. Getting outside is therapeutic, nature naturally lowers stress hormones.
Creative outlets such as writing in gratitude or daily journal or painting are therapeutic. Being creative can put the mind into a meditative state. This can lower heart rate and promote calm and peace. Even listening to relaxing music can help free one of stress.
Time out from electronics. Social media and computer screens are detrimental to one’s physical and mental well-being. Too much time staring at a screen is demotivating, stressful, and will lead to burn out plus several negative health consequences. Take a break and put time limits on screen time.
Because water can heal the soul, a floatation tank, a bath, or pool can be nice. The act of floating is a very effective way to let go of stress.
Educating spa day clients on the benefits of how spa treatments reduce stress and the importance of destressing will motivate them to book their appointment. Massage relieves stress, thereby reducing muscle tension, boosting immune function, and easing depression symptoms, which is equivalent to eight hours of sleep. In 2008, a study published by the Journal of Biomedical Research found facials and facial massage significantly reduced anxiety and stress. The skin looks better and the spirit is renewed. In addition, clients who have acne experience anxiety and depression surrounded around the appearance of their skin – a facial will clear acne and alleviate depression.
Is it a stretch to say a facial or a day at the spa can save one’s life, but it will surely improve it.
Since graduating from Pivot Point in 1989, Cali VanAelst has paved her way as one of the industry’s best. After years in the aesthetic field focusing on skin care, ingredients, spa management, and the full range of aesthetics, waxing became her passion. VanAelst grew a strong and successful waxing business through her Brazilian and eyebrow services – waxing more than 400 Brazilian’s per month. As a licensed cosmetologist and esthetician, VanAelst has become an expert in the waxing field being named the “Best Waxer” as well as being featured in many articles. Currently the national training director for Perron Rigot, Inc., VanAelst’s passion for waxing is fueled through her hands-on education and coaching fellow aestheticians. As a contributing writer to many industry magazines and educator, she continues to inspire fresh new ideas in the waxing genre.