Each of these self-care experiences from around the world has the potential to make your day better and brighter.
Around one in five US and one in four UK adults suffers from a mental health issue each year, and thanks to an increasingly open and nuanced conversation around the topic, professional help is more accessible to them than ever. And so are the smaller supportive actions of self-care that fortify our emotional health.
All cultures have their own distinct therapies, treatments and practices that calm the mind, offer a new perspective, soothe the nervous system and provide a boost. For Mental Health Awareness Day, Culture Trip highlights 15 therapeutic experiences to nurture your psychological wellbeing.
Miami: Nourish your body with a vegan cooking class
Restaurant, Vegan, $$$
Plant Miami | Courtesy of Plant Miami
The food at Plant Miami, a vegan restaurant overlooking a serene tropical garden strewn with crystals, is astoundingly inventive. If these outside-the-box dishes have you curious, sign up for Plant’s cooking course and learn how to make classic American cuisine from raw plant-based ingredients. Led by Chef Carla Martins, you’ll create healthy versions of diner fare, including burgers with fries and gooey apple pie. Spending a few hours away from screens and distractions and preparing a nourishing meal for yourself is deeply relaxing.
New Delhi: Relax under a stream of warm herbal oil
Spa, Health Spa
Kairali Ayurvedic Centre | Curtesy of Kairali Ayurvedic Group
The Kairali Ayurvedic Centre was founded in 1989 and is one of New Delhi’s leading institutes promoting Ayurvedic healing. Ayurveda is a holistic healthcare system that originated in India thousands of years ago and is still widely used across the country to treat a variety of ailments. One of Kairali’s signature treatments, Shirodhara, involves the steady drizzling of warm herb-infused oil onto the forehead and temples. Expect full-body tingles followed by a profound sense of calm.
In a city that’s famous for its 24-hour lifestyle, Inscape meditation studio provides a much-needed moment of chill. Aesthetically striking and impressively techy (if you like your in-studio experience, download the Inscape app), it offers a choose-your-own-adventure suite of guided meditations including mindful breath work, gentle movement and recorded sound baths. Sessions are held in two ambient rooms: The Dome, which has a curved, latticed ceiling illuminated with a gentle glow, and the Alcove, a cozier space draped with macramé-like decorations. You’ll leave with a sense of serenity that will buffer you against the city’s go-go-go energy.
The Royal Mansour Spa, Marrakech | Courtesy of The Royal Mansour Spa
The Royal Mansour Spa in Marrakech structured its hammam experience by combining the history of thermal baths with the beauty secrets of Moroccan women whose families have been using and operating these bathhouses for hundreds of years. Settle into its opulent surroundings – pale marble, mosaic tiles and carved wood – and try a signature hammam ritual that includes a body wrap made with Moroccan plants, such as a fragrant combination that includes lavender, argan, orange flower honey, saffron and rose.
The Bondi Icebergs, public pools that jut into the deep blue Pacific, are an image that’s been splashed all over social media – a quintessential representation of Sydney’s beach-centric lifestyle. Here you can swim laps in the salt water as waves crash over the pool’s exterior edge, then sit and enjoy brunch (nobody makes avocado toast quite like the Aussies) with a side of people watching. The best part is that entrance is only five Australian dollars (US$3.37), proving that not all wellness experiences cost a fortune.
The Liquidrom is Berlin’s spin on a thermal spa. From the outside it looks like a circus tent, but inside a domed ceiling and circular skylight lend a spaceship-like aesthetic to Liquidrom’s warm saltwater pool. Relax weightlessly, eyes closed, while electronic beats play from underwater speakers. The spa describes the sensation as floating in “liquid sound,” which seems like an ideal transition from an all-nighter at Berghain. Drift between the flotation pool, Finnish sauna, steam bath, Himalayan salt room and Japanese-style Onsen to really lock in the Zen.
Paris: Turn that frown upside down with facial massage
Christian Dior’s inaugural fashion show was held at Hôtel Plaza Athénée in 1947. It was the start of a long-standing relationship, and in 2008 the hotel announced the opening of Dior Institut – a luxury spa that celebrates the Parisian aptitude for beauty. Try the Dior Prestige grand facial treatment – a 45-minute facial massage that releases tension in the face (if you’re a jaw-clencher this one is for you) followed by a 15-minute sculpting massage designed to contour the cheekbones and leave you relaxed and radiant.
Mount Masada, an ancient fort built atop a mesa | https://www.touristisrael.com/
This experience from Tourist Israel collects you from your Tel Aviv hotel and drives you to the foot of Mount Masada, an ancient fort built atop a mesa. Summit the rock as day breaks, unroll your yoga mat facing the glittering ocean, and enjoy a Vinyasa class with the sun on your face. Afterward you’ll travel to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, where you’ll work up a sweat hiking the desert landscape before cooling off in waterfall pools. Finally, head to the Dead Sea, slather on mud and relax in the sea’s reputedly therapeutic waters.
Soak Urban Wellness, Amsterdam | Courtesy of Soak Urban Wellness
In the Bullewijk of Amsterdam, eight shipping containers have been transformed into private wellness pods. At Soak Urban Wellness guests can enjoy a range of health- and relaxation-focused experiences: infrared saunas, which are said to reduce stress, relax muscles and detoxify the body; massages administered by a special high-tech, zero-gravity, body-sensing chair; or their own spa circuit, complete with a steam room, Finnish sauna, hot and cold shower with foot soaks, lounging beds and a private patio.
Goku no Kimochi specialty head-massage parlor | Courtesy of Goku no kimochi
In Tokyo, one of the world’s most industrious cities, wait lists for a session at Goku no Kimochi specialty head-massage parlor can be up to three months long. Therapists target the nerves, muscles and connective tissue of the head, neck and face with a technique that’s said to be so relaxing it will induce sleep within 10 minutes. Don’t be put off by the studio’s bizarre decor – the time-machine theme is a nod to customer reviews that claim sessions are so wonderful they seem to pass in a flash.
Perception Blind Massage employs therapists with sight impairments who use palpation – an examining touch that discerns which muscles need extra attention – to perform a personalized and targeted treatment. The specialty here is, of course, Thai massage: a blend of acupressure and assisted stretching performed with comfortable clothes on (Perception gives you a freshly laundered outfit at check-in) that will leave your body feeling totally wrung out and tension-free.
Los Angeles: Drift off in an otherworldy sound bath session
Take a two-and-a-half-hour drive east of Los Angeles and you’ll spot a gleaming white geometric dome in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Integratron was designed to be an “electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel” by a UFO enthusiast and all-around quirky character named George Van Tassel. These days wellness types flock here to experience one of the Integratron’s famous sound baths, reclining under its domed roof to be immersed in the resonant overtone-emitting hum of crystal singing bowls. It’s an incomparably meditative experience.
Hong Kong: Lose your worries with a labyrinth meditation
Red Doors, Hong Kong | Courtesy of Red Doors
This multi-modality studio in Hong Kong’s Wong Chuk Hang area offers a rare but ancient approach to meditation. Red Doors has its own 10-circuit, 27-foot-diameter (eight-meter) labyrinth, available for guided walks. Not to be confused with a maze, a labyrinth consists of a single path that twists and turns its way to the center. Because you can’t get lost, the ancient designs induce a receptive, meditative state, especially if you walk mindfully – feeling the ground beneath your feet and paying attention to your sensory experience in each passing moment.
ChromaYoga enhances the benefits of your practice by bathing its white cube studio in colored lights. Each class is themed around a particular hue, which has been selected and scheduled according to its healing potential. For example, in studies blue light has been shown to banish sleepiness and aid seasonal affective disorder, making it a good winter-morning workout for Londoners. The studio uses additional immersive elements including brain-boosting soundscapes designed to promote a relaxed but focused state of mind, and signature scents from a London-based aromatherapist that help enhance breath work during class.
Soaking in the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon is on virtually every tourist’s Reykjavik itinerary. Avoid the crowds and book a session at Hydra Flot Spa instead. At this sensory-deprivation flotation spa you’ll recline in a private pod of epsom-salted water that’s exactly body temperature. A cocoon of darkness and silence, it creates the perfect distraction-free environment for deep relaxation. Think of this as a mini digital detox and meditation session rolled into one.
Thursday, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. The content of this article is provided for general information only and is not an attempt to practise medicine or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. The information contained in this article is for the sole purpose of being informative and is not to be considered complete, and does not cover all issues related to mental health. Moreover, this information should not replace consultation with your doctor or other qualified mental health providers and/or specialists. If you believe you or another individual is suffering a mental health crisis or other medical emergency, please seek medical attention immediately.
If you are experiencing mental health issues, in the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact the mental health charity Mind by calling 0300 123 3393 or visiting mind.org.uk. Please note there are no affiliations of any kind between the aforementioned organisations and Culture Trip.
These recommendations were updated on October 7, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.