Relaxing and Restoration

Question: I have a friend here who…well, let’s just say that she enjoys the finer things in life and also has a lot of them. She’s a big fan of girly-girl stuff and luxurious, relaxing spa-type stuff, while I really am not. She thinks I’m uptight, and I think she’s not serious enough. But we get along well enough anyway, and we have a good group of friends, which is how I ended up invited to her end-of-the-semester spa day.

I have never been to a spa, and I’m not sure I ever really need to go to one. I don’t really want to be doted on or pampered or “beautified” or anything. I just don’t see the point. I don’t want to go–but my friend has already bought everyone’s pass (or admission, or whatever you call it with a spa). How can I get out of this tactfully?

Answer:  Let’s back up for a moment, because you had quite a lot to say about spas just now–and not all of it was accurate.

Sure, the professionals at Riverwalk Place say, spas have a pampering side. But being spoiled and getting beautiful aren’t the only reasons to head to the spa. In fact, the whole point of a spa day is to be renewed and feel recharged.

And it works! Studies show that spa activities like massage can measurably reduce stress. Your mileage may vary, of course, based on how comfortable you are with the activities that your friend has planned. But perhaps, rather than backing out of the spa day, you could chat with your friend about what’s planned and try to choose the activities that most appeal to you (many spas will let you chart your own course through their various features and options). You could skip the facials and exfoliation stuff if you find it too beauty-focused, and could focus instead on massages and other more health-focused activities and procedures.

Health is an important focus of spas, say the practitioners at Sojo Spa Club. They say that spas like theirs include restaurants (with high-end and healthy options, of course), among other health-focused features. And research suggests that the health benefits of spas may be very real: spas can lead to better sleep and better mental health. On top of that, the relaxing effects of spas noted above are a great way to counter the health problems associated with stress.

You can still turn down this trip, of course, but maybe you should take another look at your friend’s spa plans–you may be judging her a bit too harshly. Spas have real benefits. If you really want to turn down your friend, I would suggest telling her as soon as possible in the hopes that she may be able to get reimbursed or find someone else to take your place. It’s not your responsibility to pay if you didn’t tell her you would go, of course, but be tactful and recognize that your friend may be upset. Express your regret and consider telling a white lie about your availability–unless, of course, you change your mind and want to go!

“It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.” — Paulo Coelho