It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes I get so stressed out and overwhelmed that the idea of taking time to relax seems more stressful, not less. That was the case one weekend not long ago, when I had so many work, family and life obligations crammed into my two “days off” that I was suffering from a serious case of self-pity. I had a massage and facial scheduled at Massage Envy for 10:45 on Sunday morning, but I had so much to do that I was, quite honestly, kind of dreading it. (You may or may not be surprised to find out that whining about your two-hour pampering session as you’re walking out the door to it doesn’t go over all that well with the people you’re leaving at home.)
Still, I was so wired, and thinking so hard about my to-do list for the rest of the day, that I thought I’d have a hard time relaxing. I walked into Massage Envy (five minutes late, of course) to find soft music and a facility of blissed out people who had already been enjoying treatments, even at the early hour. I was guided into the relaxation room to wait for Andy, my masseuse. Instead of relaxing, though, I took out my phone for five stolen minutes of email… or so I had planned. As soon as I sent one text message, my phone died. Things were already going well.
Andy greeted me and brought me into the treatment room, where I would be having both a massage and a facial. (A really nice move on their part, to have me stay in the same room and have the masseuse and esthetician swap out. I barely had to rouse myself to consciousness for the switch.) He asked me what kind of massage I’d like – light-pressure, with special attention to my problem neck – then dimmed the lights and went to work. I wish I could tell you more about the next hour, but I’m pretty sure my thoughts shut off the first time he touched my perpetually tight shoulders. Apparently I have some sort of secret button there that turns off the stress receptors in my brain. I can honestly tellyou that I didn’t have a single stressful thought, but I can’t tell you that I had a single lucid thought at all. Kind of a best case scenario. An hour of massage bliss later, Andy gave me a lavender sugar foot scrub, which was a really, aromatherapeutic way to end our session.
I think I muttered some greeting to Elizabeth, my facialist, when she came in the room, but I can’t make any promises on that. I had indicated, back when I was capable of thought, that I was looking to clear up some minor breakouts and treat the newly acquired fine lines around my eyes. She walked me through every step of the Murad Anti-Aging Facial with an almost scientific precision, including cleansing, extraction, a light chemical peel and some serious moisturizing. After she was done – I was again in a blissful daze as she worked her magic – I felt rejuvenated. My skin was clear and fresh, my muscles felt revived, and I was ready to conquer the rest of my weekend and the coming week.