How do you relax? And I mean truly letting go of the little (and big) stressors of day-to-day life? Do you take a nap, read a book, exercise or watch tv? Does relaxing mean letting your mind wander to another place or being mindful and focused on the moment at hand?
For me personally, I have a hard time letting my mind slow down. I am always thinking about what I need to do, be it an errand to run, chores to do, a blog post to write, a friend to call, a place to visit, etc. My brain does not shut down! And as I get older it seems to be more like this. Am I crazy? I hope not, but I’m sure in some sense of the word that I am an overachiever (or just an overdoer) who wants to have my hand in everything all at once. I’m learning that it is just not possible. Even watching tv and sitting down on my couch can sometimes be a struggle because I can always find something “more important” to do. I am learning that it’s ok to take some time out for me, to say no to plans and to put some chores or a workout aside for a night (or two).
Yesterday I dedicated some time for relaxation through pampering. And not only was this an awesome way to let the busyness of the world I live in float by me for a few hours, but it was also a great way to take care of my runner’s body.
My mom and I spent a few days in Montreal, Canada. Embarrassingly it was the first time either of us had been to Canada. We explored the city on Sunday afternoon, and Monday and Tuesday with visits to the Notre Dame Basilica (a truly amazing place for God’s glory), a walk through an old-fashioned French Public Market (or marchés as they say in France), a visit to McGill University where all the freshmen were kicking off their college debuts, and a glorious hike to the top of Mont-Royal for some awesome views of the city below. We walked a lot, ate some delicious food and met some really friendly French-Canadians.
And then we pampered at the spa yesterday morning before heading to the airport. All I can say is WOW! Now I really understand pampering and relaxation at its finest. If you ever visit Montreal, I highly recommend you visit Le Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal.
We got the summer special of a one-hour massage and three hours of the baths. As a runner, I’m not sure why I do not get massages more often. My knots in my shoulders are all gone and I feel ready to get out there and run a marathon. In theory that is….
The baths were amazing too and took place in a few stages. Here is my brief synopsis:
1. Body warming through a Finnish sauna and eucalyptus steam bath. Think of a dry heat and then a wet heat…both opening the pores to cause sweating to cleanse the skin. I literally could only take about a max of 10 minutes in each of these rooms back to back.
2. Refreshing rinse station–basically a cold shower to close the pores.
3. Hot tub–this huge pool of jets and a waterfall was awesome! I started to pretend to swim laps at one point–yes, see I have trouble just relaxing!
4. Cold tub–you literally needed ten seconds in this to feel refreshed.
5. Relaxation areas–all over there were these wonderful bean bag sofas and other comfy chairs where you could rest for a few. There was even a meditation room that was so quiet (one woman looked to be asleep in there for a while).
And we enjoyed smoothies at the smoothie bar. The choco-chic was delicious (chocolate, soy milk, banana and chia seeds–now finding its way on the superfoods list).
I jotted this note down that was written outside the meditation room: “Absolute relaxation is a body at rest and an untroubled mind.” So as strange an idea as it seems to me to be chilling out in your bathing suit and walking around in comfy white robes and sandals, I have been transformed and will work on “getting away from it all” and enjoying a spa-cation again!