Health Travel Magazine - Digest 2024

The 12 Days of Wellness

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and for many, the most stressful. This Christmas, take a moment each day to de-stress and focus on your wellbeing during the busiest period of the year. Over the next 12 days, refresh yourself with Health Travel as we walk you through some of our favourite wellness activities.

Day 1: Forest Bathing- the Japanese Art of Shinrin Yoku

Forest bathing is the simple art of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. Observe the beauty and tranquillity of nature as you relax, breathing deeply to de-stress.

Take a walk into your nearest forest, wooded area, or even park. Turn off your devices and focus on taking deep, meaningful breaths, and slowing down to truly stay in the moment.

Forest Bathing with Health Travel:

Delve into the peace of forest bathing in Japan; its country of origin. Home to gently swaying bamboo forests and resplendent cherry blossom trees, it’s the perfect place to surrender to the tranquillity of nature and feel its healing powers wash over you. Stay at Aman Kyoto or Amanemu for mindful retreats by the bamboo forests.

Practice the art of forest bathing in Japan

Day 2: 5 Minute Meditation

When your days are busy and stressful it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, which is why taking just five minutes out to meditate is essential to help you feel calm and present.

Begin by sitting comfortably and taking deep, meaningful breaths in and out, becoming aware of the rhythm of your breath and movement of your body. Close your eyes and feel your body relax, pressing down into the floor. Pay attention to how your body feels, is it heavy? Or light? Enjoy having nothing else to do for a few minutes, allowing your mind to wander freely. Remain this way for a few minutes before slowly reconnecting and opening your eyes. Aim to carry this sense of calm with you throughout the rest of your day.

Meditation with Health Travel:

India’s deep connections to spiritual travelling make it the perfect meditation destination. Our specially curated Dhyana Meditation Retreat at Ananda in the Himalayas focuses on using meditation techniques to unify the mind and gain a sense of tranquillity. The personalised plan aims to balance your chakras and improve the flow of energy throughout your body. As well as stress relief, it can also improve immunity, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.

Explore temples on the banks of the sacred River Ganges with a meditation retreat

Day 3: The Power of a Good Night’s Sleep

Good sleep is essential for wellness, helping to restore the body and refresh the mind after the stresses of the day. A good sleep schedule can help improve mood and reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of serious health problems.

Tonight, aim for a good night’s sleep to set you up for the day ahead. Here are our top 4 tips to promote healthy sleep:

  • Create a calm and restful sleeping environment by making sure your room is cool and dark, with no distractions.
  • Wind down an hour before bed time by turning off the tv and an electronic devices, instead choosing to read or listen to relaxation sounds.
  • Making a to-do list for the following day can be a good way to organize your thoughts and stop you lying awake thinking about things.
  • Try calming scents such as lavender to ease your mind and help you drift off peacefully, either as a pillow mist, temple oil, or in a luxurious bath before bed.

Good Sleep with Health Travel:

Transform your sleeping habits with Six Senses Ibiza’s revolutionary sleep programme. It uses sleep tracking, meditation, relaxing treatments and consultations with expert sleep doctors to analyse and improve your sleeping patterns. The improved quality of sleep can leave you feeling well-rested, de-stressed and full of life and energy.

Transform your relationship with sleep with Six Senses Ibiza

Day 4: Create your own herbal bath

Herbal baths are a simple and relaxing way to soothe your body and wind down at the end of a long day. Tap into the different healing powers of plants to create a personalised remedy that suits your individual needs.

Lavender and chamomile are both wonderful for relaxation and to combat anxiety, while peppermint and lemon verbena are refreshing and rejuvenating. Oats and calendula can help alleviate skin conditions including dry skin and eczema.

How to run your herbal bath:

For a quick and easy herbal bath, fill a muslin bag with your chosen herbs, tie it to the faucet, and let the water run through it to fill the tub. For a stronger infusion, you can make a tea, by soaking them in a jar of water for several hours, straining out the herbs, and adding your infused water to the bath. Set the scene with some candles and gentle background music for a truly luxurious experience.

Herbal baths with Health Travel:

Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan, a luxurious hideaway overlooking the dramatic Gangtey Valley, invites you to unwind in one of its heavenly hot stone baths, filled with aromatic herbs and soothing petals to nourish and replenish the skin. Complete with mesmerizing views of the lush green valley below, it’s a truly decadent experience.

Luxuriate in a soothing herbal bath at Gangtey Lodge

Day 5: 5 minute yoga practice for relaxation

Yoga is an excellent practice for strengthening the body and relaxing the mind, helping to improve flexibility and balance. Paired with breathing control and meditation, it can ease stress and anxiety, helping to focus and clear the mind. Try this five minute yoga flow to add some gentle movement to your day:

  1. Begin with cat-cow pose, opening the chest before rounding the back. Repeat several times, moving slowly and breathing deeply.
  2. Returning to table-top position, shift your hips to the left, then turn to look past your right shoulder, stretching the side body. Repeat on the opposite side then return to centre.
  3. Bring your big toes together and widen your knees. Drop your elbows to the floor and extend your forearms forward, lowering your chest towards the floor in Childs Pose, breathing slowly and deeply.
  4. Return to table top, curl your toes under, and push yourself up into downward facing dog. Focus on extending the spine long – you may need to bend your knees slightly.
  5. Hold the pose for several breaths, then walk your feet to the middle of the mat and move into a forward fold, folding your torso over your legs and touching the floor.
  6. Slowly roll up into mountain pose, and begin rotating your shoulders to release tension in the shoulders and neck. Bring your feet together, spread your fingers, and reach towards the sky, stretching the whole body out.
  7. Slowly release and interlace your fingers behind your back, draw your shoulder blades together and open the chest. Take a deep breath and release.

Yoga retreats with Health Travel:

To explore the profound connection between yoga and the mind, try Yoga & Mindfulness at Euphoria Retreat in Greece, transporting yourself to a world of calm and mental clarity. Daily yoga practise is complemented by breathing techniques, meditation and healing practises for all-round relaxation.

Practice yoga surrounded by stunning scenery at Euphoria Retreat

Day 6: Embrace ‘La Pura Vida’ – The Good Life

The Costa Rican mantra of Pura Vida symbolises a way of life free from worries. It’s about letting go of the little things the bother you and practising gratitude for the joy and beauty around you. Christmas is the perfect time to be thankful, so take five minutes of your day to relax, slow down, and think about everything you’re grateful for this year.

Pura Vida with Health Travel:

El Silencio Lodge & Spa in Costa Rica focuses on combining sustainable luxury with a profound connection to nature and unique, authentic experiences. Experience a taste of Pura Vida with farm to table dining, unique experiences in nature, and some truly unforgettable scenery among the waterfalls and cloud forests.

Appreciate the little things with Pura Vida

Day 7: Prepare your own pampering facial

Nothing is more luxurious than a relaxing facial. Recreate that spa experience at home for a well-deserved pamper session.

Begin by cleansing your skin to remove dirt, make up and impurities, before exfoliating to get rid of excess oils and dead skin, allowing the ingredients of your facial to fully penetrate the skin.

Next it’s time to apply a face mask, and you can whip up your own at home using natural ingredients. For a nourishing, home-made face mask, our favourite combination is half an avocado mixed with plain Greek yoghurt and honey for a deeply hydrating treatment.

After washing off the mask, it’s time to generously apply your favourite serums or moisturisers and begin to massage your face. Begin at the chin and stroke gently outwards, using your fingers or a roller, and repeat for all areas of the face to release tension and drain the skin.

Luxury Facials with Health Travel:

Our Health and Beauty Retreat at Brenners Park Hotel and Villa Stephanie in Germany has been designed by world renowned dermatologists, who will carefully consult with you and plan the best treatments to restore and rejuvenate your skin, leaving you feeling beautiful outside and in.

Enjoy luxury treatments at Brenner’s Park

Day 8: Philippines-inspired foot massage

When looking after the body, we often neglect our feet, yet they deserve more pampering than most areas. Constantly in use, compressed into uncomfortable shoes, pushed to run, walk, and carry us all the time, our feet can easily become worn out. Dagdagay is a traditional Filipino form of massage, using two bamboo sticks to release tension and invoke relaxation in the feet.

To recreate this for yourself, begin by soaking your feet in warm water then generously applying a foot cream or moisturiser. Use your fingers and thumbs to massage the soles of your feet, one at a time, working your way from toe to heel but paying special attention to the arch and any areas of pain.

Use your hand to bend all your toes backwards and forwards at the same time, before massaging each toe individually, gently pulling and twisting to loosen the joints. To relieve tension in the heels and ankles, hold the back of your heel and repeatedly squeeze and release, then, using your thumb and index finger, begin a stroking motion along your Achilles.

Foot Massage with Health Travel:

Experience a traditional and authentic dagdagay foot massage at The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines. Their luxury spa combines both medical and natural treatments in line with The Farm’s five pillars: Diagnose, Cleanse, Nourish, Repair, and Sustain.

Relax with authentic treatments in the Philippines

Day 9: Wim Hof Method

One for the brave – the Wim Hof Method focuses on three pillars: Breathing, Commitment, and Cold Exposure. This last one can be done through an ice bath or cryotherapy, and has become increasingly popular as a wellness practice and among athletes.

Exposing your body to the cold is found to have numerous health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, swelling and sore muscles, increased metabolism, and a strengthened immune system.

To try it at home, go for a cold shower or fill a bath with cold water and ice. Your exposure does not have to be longer than a few minutes to have an effect, try to resist the urge to tense up – your body’s natural response to stress, by purposefully relaxing your muscles, and exit feeling refreshed.

Wim Hof method with Health Travel:

The spectacular natural beauty of Scotland makes it the perfect place for wild swimming. Hike through dramatic mountain landscapes and abundant greenery before plunging into the icy waters of a loch for a refreshing dip, then head back to the Gleneagles Hotel to warm up in cosy luxury during our exclusive Wild Wellness at Gleneagles Retreat.

Dive into a loch for a refreshing wild swim

Day 10: 15-minute revitalising HIIT workout

A proven mood booster, exercise releases endorphins for an instant lift. As well as having benefits for our mental health, such as reduced stress, consistent exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of serious illness, even when only done for short periods of time. This revitalising workout will be enough to increase your heart rate and boost your energy levels, leaving you ready to take on the day.

This workout requires no equipment, but you’ll feel the burn. Do each exercise for 45 seconds, then allow 15 seconds rest before moving on to the next. Repeat the circuit two or three times for a more invigorating workout.

  1. High knees
  2. Jump squats
  3. Bicycle crunches
  4. Mountain climbers
  5. Burpees
  6. Jumping jacks
  7. Squat hold
  8. Push-ups (kneeling if required)
  9. Lunges (left leg)
  10. Lunges (right leg)
  11. Pencil jumps
  12. Standing long jump run back
  13. Tricep dips (use a chair)
  14. Tuck jumps
  15. Plank hold

Exercise and Fitness with Health Travel:

Our Bespoke Fitness & Wellness Retreat at The Ranch Malibu, USA is customised to meet your individual needs, with fitness classes, hikes, yoga and massages all carefully hand-picked to help you transform your lifestyles and gain the most benefit from your experience.

Hike the Santa Monica Mountains at The Ranch Malibu

Day 11: Easy Superfood Recipe

The right diet is essential for a balanced lifestyle. It can help boost mood and energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, improve skin and hair, and reduce your risk of serious illness including heart disease and diabetes. It’s easy to rely on foods of convenience during busy periods in our lives, particularly Christmas time, when indulgent foods are everywhere, so dedicate at least one meal today to nourish your body.

Try this super green vegetable soup recipe from our blog, for a nutrient-rich meal that brings warming comfort on cold days.

Superfood with Health Travel:

SHA Wellness Clinic utilises nutrition as a fundamental part of their wellness plans. During the course of your stay, receive a personalised nutrition plan which uses local, seasonal, and organic food to develop an energy boosting, alkaline diet to help you feel your best. Meals are low-calorie and mostly vegan, but deliciously prepared to create a satisfyingly healthy fine dining experience.

Day 12: Wine and Wellness

Who says wine doesn’t pair with wellness? At Health Travel, we believe in balancing your health with the good things in life – wine, good food, anything that brings you joy. So for our final day of wellness, treat yourself to something you love, it is Christmas after all!

Wine and Wellness with Health Travel:

The majestic Douro Valley is home to Portugal’s wine and port region. Stay at Six Senses Douro Valley, where you can enjoy everything from tastings, to yoga classes in the vineyard, soaking up the glorious views of the sun-soaked, vine covered terraces. Meet with generations of talented wine makers and learn the art of how the grapes are cultivated to produce the deep reds and mineral-fresh whites before you.

Enjoy the beauty of Douro Valley on a wine and wellness retreat