A short Tale on The Utility of Hydrotherapy and Massage as Potent Stress Busters.

I will readily admit to a singular and indisputable fact. I enjoy my source of livelihood to the extent that it sometimes leaves me emotionally drained. I am, indeed, a quaint testimony to that apt quote: do what you love, and love what you do! In my case, it cannot be otherwise, since I truly relish the pleasant asides to my vocation. I believe that I am now at a stage where I can declare without equivocation that once you are fortunate enough to identify and discover your own true calling and vocation, life assumes the hue of an endless vacation. Can it be otherwise? After all, is not true that once you love what you do for a living, you won’t have to work another day for the rest of your life? The ironic truism in all these was demonstrated, once more, three months ago. I had just concluded a hectic two-day seminar for the executives of a multinational when I received a call, close to midnight, from a distinguished icon of Nigeria’s Foreign Service, an eminent diplomatic personage, who had only recently retired from public service.
“Good evening. Is this Dr. Garnett?” A deep, cultured baritone inquired.
“Indeed, this is Dr. Garnett. How may I assist you?”
“So nice speaking with you, old chap. Your reputation precedes you, and I do declare, it’s a great one, if you’ll permit me to so declare!”
I was, at once, struck by the man’s style of speech, which was clearly pure, unadulterated, upper crust British grammar, delivered in flawless diction. This was hardly surprising, as I was to learn later that he’d attended Eton College, that public school that is the exclusive preserve of the English aristocracy. He’d then gone up to Oxford to read the Classics at Balliol College, finishing off with a brilliant doctorate at Magdalene College. After twenty years in the Foreign Service, he got the icing on the cake of his scintillating career! He was named Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and of course, his tour of duty at the Court of St James was merely a homecoming of sorts.
Having suitably disposed of preliminaries, the man went straight to the purpose of his call. He asked me to accompany him on an all-expense paid trip to South Africa for a weekend of coaching on special remedies for stress alleviation. For me, it would only be another vacation-on-the job!
Travel formalities were rapidly dispensed with, and forty eight hours later, we found ourselves comfortably ensconced at the well-appointed Muthukele Gaming Lodge, on the outer fringes of South Africa’s Cape Province. After a late lunch on our first day at the serene lodge, we sat by the natural lake and chatted.
I produced a medium-sized pebble, made of the smoothest alluvial rock, from my pocket, and handed it over to my client, whom I shall henceforth refer to as the Ambassador. He turned it round in his palm, a bemused and quizzical look clouding his handsome features. As he wasn’t a man given to too many words, his raised eyebrows was question enough.
“Well, sir, I simply want you to hold that rock in your hands and envision all the stress and strain in your body flowing through your fingers and palm into that rock. Do this with a convincing feeling. Do it with emotion. This is called TRANSFERENCE.”
I kept silent, while observing him make a spirited attempt to carry out my strange instruction.
“I find I can actually do what you’ve asked me to do. I certainly feel lighter and less stressed,” he said after five minutes of intense concentration.
“That is great. I would now like you to step over to the lake and wash the rock, so as to symbolically rinse away the stress stuff. You can then store it away for future use.”
“I simply love symbolism! I’m sure I’ll enjoy doing this quite often.” He said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Later that evening, I took my eminent client on an excursion into the world of HYDROTHERAPY.
“Ambassador, hot baths can do more than keep you clean. Warm baths have for centuries been traditional methods of healing amongst the Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Japanese. The recuperative and healing properties of hot baths are based on its mechanical and thermal effects. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. If your muscles are tensed, and you are anxious, a hot bath will soothe you. If you are tired and stressed out, you might take a hot bath, followed by a quick, invigorating shower, to help stimulate your mind and body.”
“In that case,” the Ambassador interposed, “one might perhaps conclude that it’s all a question of experimenting to determine what water method best suits one?”
“You are right on track! But remember, the goal is to use hydrotherapy to achieve a state of comfort, relaxation and refreshment.”
As he nodded comprehendingly, I continued speaking.
“Water has special powers on stress-relief and body rejuvenation. It invigorates blood circulation in the skin and muscles. It calms the lungs, heart, stomach and endocrine system by stimulating nerve reflexes in the spinal cord. When you submerge yourself in a bath, you experience some form of weightlessness, and your body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect. It gives a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water in motion stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles. The more the water is in motion; the higher is its stress-relieving benefit. That is why a whirlpool bath is infinitely more effective in relieving stress than a still water bath.”
After this exposition, we retired to the Ambassador’s suite, where I ran hot water into his bath tub, maintaining the temperature at a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. I then sprinkled some Epsom salt into the water, following up with a liberal dose of bath oil and scented bubble bath. I asked him to soak himself in the bath for an hour, following which he would step briskly under a cold shower for only ten minutes. I left him all alone to engage in the exotic delights of water therapy, while I sauntered off to savor the delights of Zulu cuisine at the hotel’s garden bar.
When I returned to my client’s suite a couple of hours later, I found him wrapped in a silk robe, looking years younger, and infinitely more refreshed.
“I say, old boy, this is magic, pure magic!” He exclaimed in absolute wonder. “I do believe I could live for another thirty years on this regime alone!”
Over the next couple of days, we experimented extensively with MASSAGE, SAUNA and STEAM BATHS. The Ambassador, being a very sophisticated man, was not entirely ignorant of these practices.
“Doctor, I’m aware that in the oriental countries of Japan and China, massage and steam baths have for centuries formed an integral part of whole systems of medicine. But, do tell me more about them, old chap.”
‘Well, Ambassador, massage stimulates the circulation of blood, and also aids the draining of waste products through the excretory organs. Additionally, the stimulation of sensory nerve endings in the skin contributes to the pleasantness of the massage, helping to reduce the effects of stress. The kneading motions of a massage break down deposited fat and cellulite which can then be evacuated by the circulatory and excretory systems. Massage produces a healthy-looking skin because of its effect on blood circulation. Without an iota of doubt, a relaxing massage reduces stress and other stress-related ailments like hypertension, constipation and premenstrual tension.”
I insisted that we indulge ourselves, to our heart’s content, in the massage rooms, sauna and steam baths throughout our three-day stay at the hotel.
For me, it was, once more, a most illuminating experience, because it demonstrated just what a couple of days of genuine relaxation can do to a man and his psyche.
And for me, another bonus! The eminent diplomat has asked me to accompany him to the class reunion activities of his Alma Mater, Balliol College, at Oxford, at the end of this year. Another working vacation?

Author's Bio: 

Dr Yomi Garnett is an expert in the fields of STRESS MANAGEMENT and SPIRITUAL STRATEGIES FOR WISDOM ACQUISITION.He spends the greater part of each year on the lecture circuit, teaching individuals and organizations how to achieve their highest potentials. He is Author of the Bestseller,365 DAYS OF WISDOM- A Daily Companion For The Soul in Search of Enlightenment.