A new Joburg health retreat for burnt out execs
Executives and A-type personalities are recognising that mental wellbeing has upside for the bottom line, especially in today’s ‘transparent’ and relentless digital media world
Elon Musk, take note. We love your innovations, your swashbuckling business maverick style and your vision that has no bounds. But it’s time to gather your depleted self and let go of those impetuous tweets.
Take a break. Look after your mental wellbeing. Take it down a notch or two and allow productivity to improve and stability to resume, and this can calm shareholders and yourself.
Executives and A-type personalities are recognising that mental wellbeing has upside for the bottom line, especially in today’s "transparent" and relentless digital media world.
With this in mind, we tried out Oxford Healthcare Retreat, a new boutique wellness guesthouse (it opened in April), catering to the needs of stressed-out executives — or anyone really. This elegant oasis is in the middle of Melrose, between high-octane Sandton and the Johannesburg CBD.
Importantly, it’s all about relatively short-term stays to achieve a sense of wellbeing.
The therapeutic goals of the programmes are to enhance your sense of wellbeing, to better understand the mind-body interaction and to experience interventions that restore balance and assist with realigning the system by combining consultative therapies with body work. This is the new way: stilling the mind and allowing the nervous system to down-regulate. It’s more than a few days at the spa.
The aim, says assistant general manager Karen Turis, is to nourish mind and body, bringing both to a place of calm. When you leave the retreat you will be equipped to sustain this inner calm. You can go for one night, but four nights is the minimum recommended for real impact. After that, an occasional top-up of two days is recommended.
The environment is pristine and immaculate, tasteful and aesthetically calming.
My visit starts with a detox smoothie: spinach, lemon, celery, cucumber, mint and apple. I spend half an hour in the flotation pool, which is particularly peaceful because you’re left alone and the room creates a sense of openness. The pool (it’s more pool than tank) is about improving the quality of sleep and alleviating the aches and pains that accumulate as a result of stress.
The flotation pool emulates the Dead Sea with 7t of Epsom salts, so the weightlessness of the body takes pressure off joints, regulating the body’s enzymes and maintaining the electrolyte balance. It feeds the nervous system, nourishes the body and helps soothe aches and pains. Research shows people who float in a flotation pool twice a month see a significant improvement in their quality of sleep and these effects can last several months.
Then there’s a yoga session with movement and journalling and a relaxation exercise followed by a deep-tissue massage. Life slows down. Stress dissolves.
The retreat was founded on the basis of research and clinical evidence showing that ongoing stress, excessive work pressure and relationship difficulties tend to manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, back and neck pain, muscle tension, digestive problems … the list goes on. Chronic physical distress and pain affect you psychologically, resulting in irritability, depression and anxiety, and have a negative impact on relationships, sleep quality and energy levels.
A typical day at the retreat involves yoga and mindfulness meditation, breakfast, optional psychotherapy, massage, craniosacral therapy, reflexology and nutritional and life-coaching consultations. Lunch is followed by time-out, flotation pool and physiological treatments to alleviate tension and replenish energy, followed perhaps by a sauna, a walk or music therapy, and then dinner.
When you leave, the retreat can help source service providers close to where you live. Some therapists continue to see clients.
There are only five luxury en suite bedrooms with private balconies, and it costs R4,950 a day for individuals. The retreat also caters for groups and couples.
*The writer was a guest of the retreat