In today’s fast-paced world, finding ways to manage stress has never been so vital – and a wellness expert at a luxury Thai spa in the New Forest believes balancing the health of both mind and body is key to regaining control over our lives.

A little stress can be a great motivator to achieve both at work and home – but let it get out of hand, and it can impact seriously on your life and your health.

From the death of a loved one, to divorce, redundancy, moving house and getting married, the biggest causes of stress are well-documented. But, increasingly, time pressures, money worries, and a constant stream of negative news, combine to make our daily lives more stressful than ever.

Lina Lotto, wellness expert and director of the luxury Thai SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel, believes meditation is key to regaining control over our stress levels.

“Life today is lived at such a fast pace,” says Lina.

“We are bombarded with news – most of it bad – 24 hours a day. Expectations are high both at work and home, there are pressures looking after children, and caring for elderly parents.

“It’s very hard to balance all that. Life can make you feel as if you are on a treadmill, without respite.

“The keys to good health are exercise, nutrition, relaxation and sleep. If all of these are in balance then you can handle so much more environmental stress, but when your body is under pressure as well because you haven’t made great lifestyle choices, those emotional and psychological pressures become much more difficult to handle.”

As stress levels rise, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase in our body, interfering with memory, lowering immune function, and increasing weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

Making balanced lifestyle choices can help address this chemical imbalance.

"Good diet, exercise, sleep and meditation will help to decrease cortisol levels and increase the hormones that will help you, like serotonin and dopamine,” says Lina.

“As well as changing you way you eat, rest and exercise, one 20-minute session of meditation a day will make a big difference – you can notice real changes in just two or three months, especially in the way that you respond to pressure.

“Because chemistry is involved, I think it helps if you can deal with the mind and body in tandem.

“None of us is perfect – I love chocolate and sugar! We’re all dealing with different things but some of us have more of a propensity for addiction than others. Where you are on that scale depends how easy it is to bring things back into balance.”

And while we work at attaining that perfect balance of mind and body, Lina has three top tips for de-stressing at home.

1. Breathe. “It’s the single most effective thing you can do to calm the nervous system,” says Lina. “It fortifies your stress response and gives your mind and body the rest you know it deserves. Just 10 minutes of slow, deep, gentle breathing at the end of a busy day can make a world of difference.”

2. Stretch. “When muscle groups become imbalanced, it is important to restore equilibrium. Yoga is superb as it strengthens and stretches the muscles and you can focus on the whole body or specific areas where relief is most needed.”

3. Soak. “The bathroom is one of the few refuges in the home where you can lock the door and have time for yourself! Run a warm bath and add a couple of handfuls of relaxing bath salts. There’s nothing like it to soak away the stress of the day.”

With a lifelong interest in holistic health and wellbeing, Lina is a wellness expert with 20 years in the industry, Lina has worked in Asia, Australia and the UK and has been spa director at SenSpa for the last 14 years.

Part of the historic country house hotel Careys Manor, in Brockenhurst, this award-winning spa combines authentic Thai therapies and delicious Thai cuisine with state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facilities to boost the mind, body and spirit. SenSpa also has a Rhassoul mud room, the UK’s only AlphaSphere Deluxe, experience showers, a crystal steam room and a herbal sauna.

Thai SenSpa, Careys Manor Hotel, Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst T: 01590 624467 W: