A papaya-scented afternoon facial and massage can melt away stress.

I'm not a big fan of pampering myself, but I do suffer from deadline-induced muscle tension, so I wasn't exactly upset when I got the assignment to get a facial and massage one Friday afternoon.

The private room inside Penzone's Gahanna spa was what I imagined—tinkling music, soft lighting and a massage table covered in blankets. Before treatment began, I told my esthetician, Marnie Morley, about the zit healing on my right cheek, the oiliness on my forehead and the dryness elsewhere on my face. She began her magic, aiming to balance oil production, prevent aging and maintain skin hydration.

First, she used a facial cleanser, then she applied a mask made from green papaya extract. She compared the papaya's enzymes to Pac-Man, eating dead skin cells, and likened the steam puffing onto my face to the quarters feeding the arcade game. Scrub and tonic treatments were done, setting the stage for extraction, during which she pulled out blackheads and unclogged pores. That stung, but just a little.

Next, a hydrating mask—the peel-away type—was done, and that was followed by a hot stone massage with apricot body oil. The combination of hot stone and oil on my skin felt like a warming gel spreading across my forearms, hands, legs and feet, melting the stored tension in my muscles. Morley applied a gentle facial exfoliant followed by cucumber eye gel, which is said to reduce puffiness.

The massage then moved to my temples and scalp, and by then I was struggling to stay awake. (Morley assures me that it's a compliment when clients fall asleep mid-session.) The treatment concluded with a moisturizer and sunscreen made from red currants. By this time, the room smelled nearly tropical with the abundance of scented oils, as well as herbal and fruit extracts.

As I stand up, my hair is wild, my limbs are slick, and my face pleasantly tingles. I'm ready for whatever Friday evening has in store, or a nap. There are worse ways to begin a weekend.