Even the calmest, coolest, and most collected of us feel completely stressed out at times. Instead of reaching for that third glass of wine or eating all of the things, why not do something for your body that will actually make it feel good. No, we’re not suggesting any of those masochistic boot-camp classes where you spend most of the time doing push-ups while instructors scream at you. Those don’t feel good for anyone.
And—we’re not just talking about working out. Today, wellness extends to so much more than physical fitness. It’s a mind-set, a way of life, and it has just as much to do with intellectual stimulation (and overall happiness) as it does with abdominal definition.
So, go ahead, close your eyes and take a deep breath: Here’s how to cleanse your mind, body, and soul in Wales.
Lazy Frog Flotation Centre
1 Uplands Terrace
Uplands, Swansea SA2 0GU
What if we told you that there was a way to achieve complete and total mind-body relaxation (and put an end to your chronic joint pain) and all you had to do was lay there? Well, turns out there is. It’s called floating… and it’s fabulous. Here’s how it works: Simply lie in a specially designed “float room” filled with water (and nearly 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt!) and you’ll be able to float effortlessly. Some people even fall asleep!
It may sound odd, but think of it this way: when you’re in an environment free from noise and other sensory triggers, your body lowers its levels of cortisol (the main chemical component of stress), and your brain releases elevated levels of dopamine and endorphins. Research shows that floating measurably reduces blood pressure, improves concentration, stimulates creativity—and is even a cure for jet leg. John Lennon reportedly even used floating to overcome his heroin addiction in 1979, according to biographer Albert Goldman.
SWEAT IT OUT
Between work, friends, family, and your can’t-stop-won’t-stop chewing puppy, even the most level-headed person can feel a bit unnerved from time to time. Relax your body and mind with some downward dog time at one of the hottest—literally—yoga studios in town. But don’t expect just any basic bar studio. Each 99-degree class is held inside an inflatable cocoon of sorts, designed to transport you into an otherworldly setting... until you emerge, hopefully, as a tranquil butterfly.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Sometimes the best way to clear your mind is to transport yourself into a whole new world. Until we figure out a way to crack that whole time travel thing, getting lost in a good book is a great alternative. Even better—getting lost in a town literally full of books. Let us introduce, Hay-on-Wye. Overflowing with more than two dozen bookshops, most of which sell second-hand and speciality titles, this small market town in Wales is a haven for bibliophiles. Come late May, the sleepy town with a population hovering around 1,500 comes alive with visitors for Britain’s best known literary celebration, the Hay Festival. Bill Clinton even called it “The Woodstock of the mind” when he attended in 2011.
Richard Booth's Bookshop
Though it’s completely possible to see Hay-on-Wye in a few hours (early risers, take note: most stores don’t open until 10:30 AM), consider spending the night at one of the town’s quaint B&B’s like The Swan at Hay to really re-charge your batteries. They even put freshly-baked cookies in your room every night! Spend some time flipping through books at Richard Booth’s Bookshop (fun fact: he declared himself “The King of Hay” in the ‘70s), grab a low-key lunch at Eve’s, before unwinding with a pint and burger at the Blue Boar Pub. And just in case you’re still in need of a sweet, head to Shepherds for a dip of sheep’s milk ice cream.
DINE UNDER THE STARS
Off Grid Gourmet
Parks Road (Locksters Lane)
Clifford HR3 5HQ
They say the best meals are the ones that tell a story; they capture a season, a region, a moment in time and serve as a mental photograph for years to come. That’s why Off Grid Gourmet—a solar, wood, and charcoal powered supper club in rural Wales—might just be the best meal of your life. For starters, it’s not your typical restaurant: the produce is picked from a local garden, the meat is cooked in a wood and solar powered oven (or over an open flame), and you eat in a twinkle-lit tent under the stars. Can you think of a more magical evening?!
But the real standout is the food—which is served family-style, with plenty of homemade bread for dipping. Though the menu changes depending on what’s in season, sample dishes include: beetroot and goat's cheese salad, pheasant poached in cider with quince, venison stew, red cabbage with cloves and cinnamon, and caramel panna cotta with vanilla plums. Due to the pop-up nature of the restaurant, the chefs aren’t able to make any adjustments or substitutions during the meal, but if have any food allergies or dietary requirements, such as being a vegan, they’re happy to create a special menu with advanced notice.
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Whether you’re an experienced artist or simply trying to channel your inner Banksy, there’s something incredibly therapeutic about sitting down with only a sketchpad and pencil and letting your creativity flow. It’s even been proven by science; simply spending a few minutes doing art has been known to lower anxiety, reduce stress, and promote self-reflection.
Although there’s plenty of gorgeous nature settings to sketch in Wales, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will get your creative juices (and adrenaline) flowing, sign up for the Art Workshop at Wolf Watch UK, where you’ll have the opportunity to sketch living, breathing wolves. Led by author and illustrator Eva Dutton, the five-hour class tackles basic canine anatomy, movement, textures, tones, and composition. The workshop also includes a tour of the wolf conservation centre, which serves as a sanctuary for displaced wolves.