Written by: Heather Mikesell
While there are many days on the calendar that promote good health, Global Wellness Day (GWD), which takes place June 12th this year, celebrates living well, both physically and spiritually, and inspires people around the world to adopt a well-rounded approach to creating a healthier and better life. With the slogan, “One day can change your whole life,” GWD is a non-profit social project dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of wellness in our lives. One hallmark of the many GWD celebrations, which always take place the second Saturday in June, is that all of the wellness-related activities need to be complimentary. This is to ensure that they’re accessible to all.
Want to celebrate GWD this year? Start by incorporating GWD’s seven-step manifesto. The idea behind the steps, which are available to all, regardless of economic status, is to create a domino effect on your lifestyle and add happy and healthy years to your life.
- Walk for an hour.
- Drink more water.
- Don’t use plastic bottles.
- Eat healthy food.
- Do a good deed.
- Have a family dinner with your loved ones.
- Sleep at 10:00 pm.
Founded by Belgin Aksoy, GWD was inspired by her own health crisis and awakening about the crucial role wellness plays in all of our lives. “Until 2004, I believed I had a fairly healthy lifestyle,” says Aksoy. “I was eating well and exercising regularly. I was living a happy life and thought I had it all. However, in 2004, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to immediately change many things in my life.”
In isolation for nine days while she underwent radioactive iodine treatment, Aksoy struggled with being apart from her son, who was only 17 months at the time. With time to think, she realized how precious life is and began searching for answers as to why she had gotten sick and how to rid her body of the radiation it was being subjected to in order to treat the cancer. “Little did I know that blockages in our chakras could make us sick, and in my case, the sentences I did not say, the words I swallowed had made me sick,” says Aksoy.
After spending the next eight years educating herself about wellness and creating a better lifestyle, Aksoy began hearing a whisper in her ear that asked what she was going to do with her newfound knowledge and how she was going to give back to the world. “One day, as I sat in front of my computer, I started to research when Global Wellness Day was celebrated in the world,” says Aksoy. “To my surprise, I saw there was no such day. So, I decided to create a celebration at our hotel, back then it was called Wellness Day, and we chose the second Saturday of June.” Debuting in 2012, the modest event took place with 170 people at Turkey’s first destination spa, Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa. It involved a host of activities, such as nutrition workshops, skincare sessions, reiki, and yoga.
In 2014, Aksoy introduced GWD to approximately 400 leading wellness and spa delegates at the eighth annual Global Spa and Wellness Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco. “Following this amazing event, countries around the world started to take a great interest in Global Wellness Day,” says Aksoy. “While GWD was only celebrated in one spa in 2012, it turned into an international event in 2015 where it was celebrated in more than 74 countries in more than 600 locations.”
From there, it has only grown in size and scope. “If you create a global movement with the right intention, even Oprah Winfrey will volunteer to share your message,” says Aksoy. “If you do something good for the world, the British Royal Family turns into one of its supporters. The world’s most important businesspeople, celebrities, athletes, and even presidents of countries give their support.”
Today, GWD has extended its reach to include 103 GWD ambassadors, 27 key supporters, and four advisors from around the world, working together and with the media to spread the word and organizing GWD celebrations around the world. “It is such a rewarding feeling to see GWD spread from 170 people to 170 countries,” says Aksoy.
Spreading the wellness word is certainly a priority at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa near Burlington, VT. Beyond GWD, there are 364 other days in the year in which wellness should be top of mind, which is why The Essex introduced its Recipe for Relaxation. It provides a healthy getaway involving one-night of accommodation, a 50-minute massage or facial ($140 spa credit), a spa lunch, and unlimited access to the spa facilities.
At Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in Virginia, a soothing saltwater foot soak serves as a relaxing and mindful way to incorporate some self-care. The Salt Foot Sanctuary is a shared experience in which a couple or pair of friends can enjoy a nourishing foot soak in large hand-hammered copper bowls containing minerals, aromatic essential oils, and Blue Ridge Mountain salt. The 45-minute experience includes a complimentary hot tea, glass of wine, or Virginia craft beer.
In Leesburg, VA, Lansdowne, nestled in the heart of wine country and overlooking the Potomac River, gives guests the opportunity to reboot with a spa getaway at Spa Minérale, featuring overnight accommodations, $300 in spa credits, and a bottle of the spa’s Respiratory Detox Shot.
Sometimes immersing ourselves in a bit of solitude is the best thing we can do to restore balance in our lives. At The Abbey Resort in Fontana, WI, the Calm Water Retreat is a stress-free way to care for the mind and body. Located on the shore of the sparkling spring-fed Lake Geneva, the resort is the perfect place to enjoy a mindful walk or invigorating run along Lake Shore Path, visit Avani Spa, relax by the adults-only Atrium Pool, or enjoy a fitness class. The retreat includes discounted overnight accommodations, $130 spa credit, an Avani spa gift bag, a $20 voucher for Café Latte, and an Abbey Resort water bottle.
No matter how you choose to prioritize wellness in your life, the benefits are well worth the effort. “I am a strong advocate of the understanding that living well is the simple necessity for every human being on the planet and that wellness is not a luxury but the inherent right of every individual,” says Aksoy. “I believe the pandemic has proven this to us all.”