29 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2023 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Elissa Epel

Spa People

Elissa Epel

We need to view stress management as seriously as we do medical disease

Epel is known for her research which links stress to cellular ageing Photo: Elissa Epel
Epel’s new book is a guide to handling stress Photo: Elissa Epel

“I’m a firm believer in retreats and spas but without the skills to help people deeply relax, they’re of limited value,” says Elissa Epel, professor in psychiatry and behavioural medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “Despite being physically in paradise while visiting a spa, our mind can still be working overtime panicking about the past, the future and stress we hold in our bodies – even unconsciously.”

Best known in the industry for her pioneering research linking stress to the shortening of telomeres and immune cell ageing, Epel has just written a book – The Stress Prescription – to help people to take control of their stress in just seven days.

“I use the word prescription because we need to view stress management as seriously as we do medical disease,” Epel tells Spa Business. “The vast majority of us are living with too much daily stress and it’s ruining our life.

“We’re living in tough times and need more robust tools and stress management practices for daily life. Stress can feel like a filter that masks the beauty in front of us. But we don’t have to live that way.”

After decades of studying the subject, Epel felt compelled to share her insights on how to reshape our relationship with stress into one that’s healthy and humorous. She’s broken them down into seven steps – “potent easy strategies proven to be effective” – that each requires just a few minutes a day:

• Embrace uncertainty

• Put down the weight of what we can’t control

• Use our stress response to help overcome challenges

• Train our cells to “metabolise stress” better

• Immerse ourselves in nature to recalibrate our nervous system

• Practice deep restoration

• Intersperse our busy schedules with moments of joy

“With some relatively simple new habits, we can train the mind and body to experience the inevitable stresses of life in a positive way that’s actually healthy for the body,” she says.

Epel sees the book being particularly useful to wellness lovers and operators. “Using these techniques, people are better equipped to reap the positive effects of time at spas and benefit from the experience for longer, meaning they may return sooner,” she concludes.

“In fact, studies have shown that people who are more experienced in meditation show more immediate physiological benefits from a retreat.”

Originally published in Spa Business 2023 issue 1

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