This week has been trying for this sensitive soul. Juggling two careers, interstate travel, long work days, and the difficulties of house-hunting had all banked up until the dam of stress within me was at breaking point. Something had to give.
Perhaps ‘give’ is the key word here. At times of stress, what do we sacrifice first? We pull back on things that nurture us, that bring us joy. We sink our energies into external priorities – the ones that prove our worth, that provide for others, or that help us reach the next peg along the fence. We don’t think about how removing our foundations (ie. what makes us feel good – this can be as simple as good food and rest), might fracture our headspace and lead to a breakdown.
And so we give to others, but we somehow forget to give to ourselves. I’m always taken by how lovely and deeply soothing it is to perform the ceremony of taking a long, hot bath, and often ponder why I don’t make a point of ritualising it once a week. Well, why not? There is no reason why you can’t create your own self-care spa ritual at home, anytime you feel like you need to give a little bit back to you.
YOUR SELF-CARE KIT
- Scented soy/beeswax candles
- Epic playlists
- Essential oils
- Epsom Salts
- Face / hair mask
- Body lotion / coconut oil
- Flowers / green plants
- A good book / magazine
- Dry bristled body brush/mitt
- Fresh towel, robe and slippers
Your ritual is your own; you can design it however it makes you feel best. The following are some suggestions that you might like to include; you can mix and match these depending on your mood or occasion. Allow yourself to immerse completely into the moment – acts of love towards yourself are so important for self-esteem, confidence and physical renewal.
YOUR SELF-CARE SPA RITUAL IN 10 STEPS
- Set some beautiful candles around your bath area, taking care that they aren’t set up anywhere where you might knock them over. Soy or natural beeswax candles are better than paraffin wax for both scent and being environmentally friendly. You could use an array of small tealight candles, or one large fragrant candle to scent the room – don’t forget to dim the lights or use natural light to keep the atmosphere soothing.
- You may prefer silence and solitude to help clear your mind, but sometimes a bit of me-time calls for some ethereal music to help soothe the soul. I’ll admit, I’ve had some curious selections over the years (I was once renowned for playing Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Still’ album in the bath during times of stress, so no judgement here), so just find something that stirs your spirit and pop it on. If you want to play tracks using your iphone but don’t have a speaker, you can angle your phone in a tall glass and the sound will amplify easily.
- Whilst running your bath, add ½-1 cup of Epsom salts (you can buy these cheap from any supermarket or chemist), and 5-7 drops of your preferred essential oil. Epsom salts, otherwise known as magnesium sulfate, are a great way of increasing your magnesium levels, as well relaxing muscles, decreasing stress, even preventing migraines and muscle cramps. You can select your oils depending on your mood – eg. lemongrass for energy, lavender for relaxation, or rose for self-love.
- Use a dry bristled body brush or mitt to slowly brush your still-dry skin from your feet and hands towards your heart, working in long strokes along your legs, torso, back and arms. Avoid your décolletage and face, as the skin there is too delicate. By brushing away dead cells and stimulating blood circulation, you should feel invigorated as the blood is encouraged to the surface of the skin. In doing so, you’ll also reduce cellulite and increase lymph function which spurs your natural detoxification process. To well and truly shake off the old, take off any remnant nail polish and make-up with appropriate removers.
- A small posey of flowers or a green plant adds something special to your sacred space, and are often a pleasure to meditate on whilst relaxing in the bath. Moreover, there have been numerous independent studies which demonstrate that keeping interior plants can reduce stress and improve wellbeing – even improving cognitive function. You could even take petals from a rose or calendula plant and scatter them in the bath, both of which have healing properties for the skin.
- Before hopping into the bath, hold your hand in the water for 10 seconds to check the temperature, and make sure you have a fresh towel, bath robe and slippers handy for when you step out. If you can, clear the room of any sundry clutter and put your day’s clothes in the laundry. It sounds pedantic, but a clear room can help you achieve a clear mind, too.
- Pour yourself a cup of herbal tea to keep nearby, or even a well-deserved glass of champagne! This is your time now, so do whatever helps you to relax. If you don’t mind wet pages, a good book in the bath is an outright treat – travel pillows keep the neck supported and dry easily, and keep a small towel nearby to help with damp hands. Now is a good opportunity to put on any hair or face masks you wish to use, to allow the time for them to sink in and work their magic.
- Focusing on the breath is a beautiful meditation, taking a slow, deep breath down into the belly and letting it expand into the sides of the ribs, and exhaling completely as the ribs slowly knit back together. You could meditate on the intricate details of the petals and leaves of your flower posey, or observe the silent flicker of the candle flame as it dances quietly on the bench. Or, close the eyes and let your ears sit just under the water, slipping out of hearing range of the rest of the world. An added bonus – the Epsom salts in the water are fantastic for promoting a healthy scalp and creating volume in hair, so swish your hair around a little to let your follicles reap the benefits.
- Give yourself a bit of bath-time love by massaging your hands and feet (assuming your feet aren’t too ticklish!). Rub your thumb slowly across the palm of your opposite hand, squeezing fingertips between index and thumb. You can also softly pinch the webs of your fingers to access trigger points that will help you to relax. Similarly, with your feet, gently rub the base and tops of your feet with your hands, squeezing the tops of your toes, the arch of your feet and webs between toes to access trigger points.
- Once you feel that wave of calm settle over you, and the bath water turns luke-warm, it’s time to step out once more. Use the towel to give your skin a gentle pat-down, and whilst your skin is still damp, apply your body lotion or try a thin layer of coconut oil to lock moisture in. Use a warm damp cloth to remove the rest of your mask, and apply a face oil and cream to keep the skin soft. Put your robe and slippers on, blow your candles out and go enjoy the rest of that champagne on the couch. Ahh. Xx
FOR THOSE WITHOUT A BATH…
Fear not, we haven’t forgotten you! There’s no reason why you can’t create your own spa ritual in the shower, every day. Here’s a few ways you can create your own stand-up spa experience:
- Use essential oils as part of your routine by adding a few drops to the floor of your shower and letting the scented steam rise and fill your senses.
- Keep humidity-loving green plants like peace lilies, orchids or ferns in your bathroom to beautify your space and improve your mood.
- Close your eyes and meditate on the sensation of water drops on skin, slowly moving under the spray to feel the water hit your shoulders, head, back and chest.
- Create your own essential oil-infused Epsom salt scrub to use in the shower to invigorate your body with the benefits of magnesium sulfate – keep an eye out for the recipe on the blog shortly!