A Guide to Self-Care in Whistler
By Dee Raffo / Images By Joern Rohde
Taking care of yourself has never been more important with the pandemic adding extra stress and anxiety to everyone’s lives, but the truth is, we are not very good at it. Self-care isn't narcissistic, it's essential: a chance to check in with yourself, recognize how you're feeling and caring for your well-being so that you can show up, feel good, and radiate that energy and positivity toward the people in your life.
Acknowledging that there are lots of facets to self-care, including emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual practices, this article touches on just some of the many ways to do it in Whistler.
Spending time in nature helps us to be present, which can be an elusive feeling in a world fraught with distractions. There are obvious physical benefits to taking a walk in the woods, but movement is also a proven tonic for the mind. Whistler naturalist Sabrina Hinitz is an expert on the restorative and healing powers of spending time in the forest. She completed the Yasei Shinrin-Yoku (Wild Forest Bathing) certification program at the Wildcraft Forest School near Lumby, B.C., and founded Forest and Flow in Whistler in 2019 to bring the benefits of forest bathing to more people.
Shinrin-Yoku originates in Japan, and although its literal meaning is forest bathing, it doesn’t involve a clawfoot tub in the woods. Instead, it’s the concept of taking in the forest with all of your senses. It’s mindful time in nature. Hinitz’s forest bathing tours take you on a leisurely, two- to three-hour journey over a deliberately short distance, with stops for meditation and exercises that aim to connect your senses with the beautiful forest surroundings.
“I also invite participants to create something, an offering to the forest, simply using materials that have fallen to the floor. We conclude each walk with a seasonal forest tea that I craft from edible plants, tree parts, and/or fungi that I collect as we go,” explains Hinitz. “You will come away with a deeper connection to nature after really getting to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste the forest as well as use some of your extra-sensory abilities like intuition and heart sense. These walks are perfect for individuals, families, and groups of all ages as I customize the tour to suit your specific needs and hiking abilities.”
Hinitz offers customizable tours for individuals, families, and groups, which can be booked through her website forestandflow.com. She also worked with the team at Canadian Wilderness Adventures to develop their forest bathing tours, which are based in the stunning Callaghan Valley. A three-hour round-trip adventure that follows their Medicine Trail, this is an intuitive forest experience that will draw on all your senses.
You might see some brave souls taking a morning dip in Whistler’s glacier-fed lakes, and even going to higher alpine locales to get their cold-water buzz as the summer heats up. There is certainly something to be said for this instant wake-up call for the body. However, if you’re not up for the hike or want to have a warm-up option close at hand, then you can visit the Scandinave Spa.
Whistler has welcomed this Finnish tradition and given it a mountain twist with the setting of the spa on the edge of Lost Lake Park, surrounded by magnificent cedars and spruce, with views of the Coast Mountains. It provides the benefits of hydrotherapy, with a three-part cycle of hot, cold, relax, and repeat, that increases blood circulation, detoxifies, and releases endorphins.
“Scandinave Spa offers the yin to Whistler's yang,” says Michelle Leroux, sales and marketing manager at the Scandinave Spa Whistler. “The three-stage cycle of hydrotherapy offering hot, cold and relaxation stages, all set in nature, lets the body deeply relax while the rules of silence and no technology allow the mind and spirit to truly unplug and find peace.”
To heat your body up, increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure, there’s eucalyptus steam baths, a Finnish sauna (with heated rocks), a wood-burning sauna and hot baths. Then it’s time for that quick, but highly beneficial, cool rinse that helps flush toxins and close pores, using the Nordic waterfalls, showers and cold plunges. After that, you need to give your body time to regulate by relaxing in one of the solariums, hammock havens, yoga studios or around an outdoor fireplace. All of this is done in blissful silence, a rule that is integral to the whole experience. And then, repeat!
As we grow up, we tend to play less and less. But we know from childhood that it’s an integral part of growing and learning, and that shouldn’t have an age limit. Whistler is often described as an adult playground, and it is.
“We take playing in the mountains pretty seriously,” says Kristal Taylor, director of sales and marketing at Canadian Wilderness Adventures. “We have something for everyone, from ATVs, off-road buggies, and Jeep 4X4s to canoes and electric mountain bikes. We also have passionate guides who care about making your adventure fun while staying safe. We can all benefit from having more fun in our lives!” Reserve a tour at canadianwilderness.com.
In the summer months, play can take many forms. For some, it involves two wheels and a seemingly endless supply of bike trails. For others, it’s a paddle and exploring Whistler’s lakes and waterways via canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. There’s also the motor-assisted fun of whipping through the forest on an ATV; the gravity-fed thrill as you zipline from mountain to mountain or take the plunge off a bungee bridge, or the sweat-equity, hard-earned adventure of hiking into the high alpine for those 360-degree mountain vistas.
After all that fun, you could then opt for some healing hands at one of Whistler’s incredible spas. And, remember that taking the time to care for yourself shouldn’t be pushed down the priority list. Bump it up on your “must-do’s” this summer and we’ll see you out on the trails.