The art of living well
The statistics for mental health and stress bear all the hallmarks of a national epidemic. Mounting pressure in the workplace has driven 13 per cent of us to put in at least 49 hours a week at the office and 75 per cent of us to survive on far less than the commonly prescribed eight hours’ sleep. The consequences of “all work and no play” result in people finding it harder to eat well, exercise, socialise with friends and lead healthy, balanced lives.
Levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness are at an all-time high, and visible in bodies that are biochemically and emotionally out of balance. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people in England experience a mental health problem in any given year, depression being the most common.
It should come as no surprise that many of us are looking beyond conventional medicine for a solution to find a better work-life balance. Eastern philosophy, complementary therapies and natural plant-based remedies have increased in popularity as a result of this personal and collective crisis.
Mindfulness – a Western take on Buddhist meditation – has become a buzzword on account of its ability to rewire our stress response, improve productivity and boost emotional flexibility.
Yoga, meanwhile, has moved from the margins of society to the mainstream with some half a million regular practitioners in the UK. Massage and body manipulation therapies are no longer occasional treats, but a pivotal part of a stress-busting toolkit for 30 per cent of the population.
In short, we are on the cusp of a collective shift. That which was once considered fluffy or “alternative” is now serious therapy.
British brand Aromatherapy Associates has been supporting a wellbeing agenda since 1985 and only now, some 30 years later, has the market caught up. The late co-founder Geraldine Howard built the company on the firm belief that an enriching aromatherapy experience is therapeutic for body, mind and skin. Today, the brand is synonymous with handcrafted and expertly blended essential oils that promote relaxation and rebalancing in a hectic world.
Making a difference through mindfulness
To cement and advance the new-found faith in wellbeing, Aromatherapy Associates has brought together an A-team of Wellbeing Experts that includes experts in fitness, health, psychotherapy, nutrition and somatics – the study of perceiving the body from within.
Each of the Wellbeing Experts will offer practical tools on how to destress, find inner strength, relax or revive, linking back each area to an Aromatherapy Associates’ range. The Wellbeing Experts can help reinforce the brand’s goal to help people find a healthy balance in life.
For example, expert advice from public health nutritionist and life coach Yvonne Wake will cover food choices that support our energy levels and mood. Her guidance is complemented by the Revive collection of Aromatherapy Associates’ products, which have been blended to stimulate the mind and senses.
Equally, stress management advice from happiness coach and laughter yogini Julie Whitehead can be supported by the Relax collection, which features essential oils that engage the parasympathetic system – our rest-and-digest response – and aid the onset of deep sleep. After all, it is by offsetting the stress response and settling into a truly restorative sleep pattern that we are able to re-enter the workplace anew the following morning.
These are the principles on which Geraldine built Aromatherapy Associates and which she would have wanted to pass on to loyal fans of the brand. To her, wellbeing was not a buzzword or a profitable trend; it was a way of life for everyone, especially those who worked for her. One of her mottos – Take care of the staff who take care of the guests – continues to permeate the working culture at Aromatherapy Associates today.
Aromatherapy Associates’ Bath & Shower Oils can change how you feel for six to eight hours – that’s the power of aromatherapy. The ultimate goal of the Wellbeing Experts is to help change how people think in the hope they can cultivate long-lasting positive habits. A practice that is done for one day, can be done for two and, with the support of our team, can eventually reach 30 days.
Time for giving
To demonstrate fully their commitment to helping others and encouraging people to take time for themselves, Aromatherapy Associates have crafted Christmas gift sets that double up as art therapy. In addition to a selection of the most popular products from the range, the English Winter Garden gift guide includes hand-drawn designs that can be coloured in and shared through Aromatherapy Associates’ various social media channels.
Art therapy has been championed by psychotherapists for its ability to help clients shift their attention away from everyday stresses and channel it into a moment of mindfulness. The simple practice of colouring in eases the “monkey mind” that is at the root of anxiety disorders, and helps to stop and take a moment to relax.
Perhaps most importantly, art therapy is an experiential way to regress to a simpler time when fewer responsibilities demanded our attention. And there is no better time to relive that sense of ease and magic than at Christmas. Gift sets this year include My Treat, the Ultimate Bath Collection and Instant Wellbeing, the contents of which can be viewed at aromatherapyassociates.com.
Aromatherapy Associates’ approach to “mindful beauty” hinges on the idea of self-care. For Geraldine, whatever shape it took, self-care was healthcare. In other words, allowing ourselves to have time out is deeply therapeutic for your skin, body and mind.
For an even deeper immersion into mindful beauty, Aromatherapy Associates’ tailor made treatments can be experienced at spas including Grace Belgravia and the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge.
Male clients seeking stress-busting treatments, such as the Intensive Muscle Release or Jet Lag Cure, can visit Aromatherapy Associates’ male grooming destination The Refinery Barber & Spa, which has opened new doors in both Knightsbridge and Mayfair. The curated male-friendly menu features aromatherapy powered facials, massages and barbering experiences from industry experts, all executed in a unique men-only setting.
For more information visit www.aromatherapyassociates.com
An exclusive 20 per cent discount is available with the code TIMES20 on the website for anyone who needs mindfulness and space to turn bad habits into good habits*
An exclusive 20 per cent discount is available at The Refinery Barber & Spa for Times readers
*Standard T&Cs apply
 Estimate from British Wheel of Yoga