Can’t deal with the world right now? Here are three of the most relaxing (and unusual) treatments in New York City

Between the Fed promising to raise interest rates, Mike Pence also having a private email server (seriously?) and the fact that no one knows what the new health care law is going to look like, these are stressful times for New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do to change the political climate, but there are some things you can do to make yourself feel better about it. Namely, head to the spa or even the doctor’s office to indulge yourself in a little me time.

If you’re looking for something unusual to try, here are three more out-there treatments that we promise will relax you so much you won’t even remember who the president is.

The Haven Spa treatment room

For anyone … Who likes it hot
Treatment: Hot Stone Massage ($150 for one hour)
Where: Haven Spa/250 Mercer Street

Always been curious about a hot stone massage, but scared by the prospect of placing boiling hot stones on your skin? Haven Spa in the Village offers a nice introduction to the treatment by only using the stones for the second half of the one-hour session.

First, the massage starts like any other; the masseuse warmed up my muscles by rubbing them firmly with oil. This meant that by the time she started placing the stones on me, I was in such a deep, relaxed state that any fears I had about the treatment had faded away from my anxious mind.

Be warned the stones are hot and if you have sensitive skin you might yelp a little bit when they are placed on you. My therapist cooled them down before she put them on my skin (I like the heat, but you can always ask for them to be cooler), and she also warned me about what was happening so I could mentally prepare for it. As hot as they were, they didn’t leave any marks on my sensitive skin, and they jump-started my circulation so that I felt bubbly and ready-to-go afterward.

The bathing room at the Shibui spa

For anyone …
Who just needs a drink
Treatment: Sake Bath ($95 for half an hour)
Where: Shibui Spa at The Greenwich Hotel/ 377 Greenwich Street

I’ve tried floats before, and always found them a little boring and not at all relaxing. It turns out the missing ingredient was — surprise, surprise! — alcohol. The Japanese, being much smarter than we are, have known this for a long time and it is a New Year’s Eve tradition in Japan to take a sake bath, or a soak in a hot bath with a bottle of sake in it.

Now, the treatment has come to New York City at the absolutely beautiful Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel, where you can book a half an hour sake soak.

After I enjoyed the excellent facilities in the spa (including the warmed seat on the Toto toilet) and slipped into a printed Japanese robe, I was led into the soaking room. There, I was instructed to scrub myself with a brush to get rid of my dry skin.

As I lowered my newly exfoliated body into the pool, I was hit with a rush of alcohol that immediately calmed me and cut through all my anxieties in a way that a regular soak never has. If the sake in the bath isn’t enough for you, the spa also provides sake to drink on the side as well as a refreshing chilled Yuzu mocktail.

Though a half an hour may seem short for a float, the alcohol radiating off of the steaming water is actually very intense and I took a few breaks on the cushiony bed and pillow right outside the bath when I started to feel woozy.

When I reached the end of my session, the spa rang a little bell to notify me, and I stumbled back into my robe, totally relaxed and maybe even a little drunk off the steam.

The hyperbaric chamber

For anyone … Who needs to take a deep breath
Treatment: Hyperbaric Chamber
Where: The Salerno Center for Complementary Medicine/ 12 East 52nd Street, Fl. 4

The Salerno Center is not a spa but a complementary medicine office run by Dr. John P. Salerno, who offers a range of treatments for patients suffering from everything from sleep apnea to infertility. Even if you don’t have such serious conditions, however, he recommends trying out his hyperbaric chamber, where patients can breathe 100 percent pure oxygen for a thirty or sixty-minute session.

Best known as a cure for sick scuba divers, hyperbaric chambers actually have a lot of benefits for those who are looking to “increase energy, improve mental focus and even fix their skin,” Dr. Salerno said. Self-help guru Tony Robbins, who is a patient of Dr. Salerno’s and suffers from claustrophobia, asked him to purchase this standing version of the machine (most of them are designed like a coffin that you lay down in), which has a window and feels more spacious.  Dr. Salerno believes it is the only standing hyperbaric chamber in New York City.

I would recommend bringing something to read or to do for your session (I did not and so played with my phone for half an hour). It is slightly surreal to step into the chamber and wait for it to inflate with the oxygen and I imagine it’s similar to going into space.

Breathing deep breaths of oxygen for half an hour made me feel healthier and more robust than I had in a long time and my friends who I met for dinner afterward noted that I was glowing.


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