TIME TO UNWIND
From time to time we could all use a day of pampering to rejuvenate mind and body. The cost of indulging at a fancy spa can easily reach several hundred dollars. With everyday household goods and some inexpensive items from the pharmacy, you can recreate the spa experience at home for much less. Here are 10 tips for a relaxing at-home spa experience.
Many of us are on our feet for hours each day and there's nothing like a good soak to relieve stressed foot muscles. Fill a large bucket or tub with hot water and 2 cups of Epsom salt, stirring until dissolved. Epsom salt helps the skin detox and muscles relax. It is often mixed with dried flowers and sold in elaborate packages at high prices, but a 5-pound bag containing 10 cups can be found at pharmacies for about $4. If you have essential oils like lavender, rose, or amber on hand, add a few drops to the soaking liquid for an aromatherapy effect.
Tending to the nails is an essential part of a good spa day. Whether you choose to paint them or not, your hands and feet will benefit from a nice soak in warm water and then a good cleaning of the nails and nail beds. Once softened, nails are easier to clip and the cuticles can easily be pushed back and trimmed. Specialty tool kits for nails are available at pharmacies for about $8 and include clippers, cuticle cutter, scraper, and file.
Many of the fruits and grains we eat have cleansing and moisturizing properties, which is why so many body products use them as ingredients. There are many options for DIY face masks that are as good for the skin as they are tasty. For example, some nourishing masks combine avocado, oatmeal, and honey. Whichever combination you choose, leave the moisturizer on for 20 minutes before washing off with warm water to reveal the soft and fresh skin underneath.
The small touches of a spa such as cucumber water can take the experience to new heights. Create the same pampering effect by preparing a pitcher of infused water. Simply add slices of citrus fruits, cucumbers, and herbs to a pitcher of water and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. These refreshing infusions will also encourage you to drink plenty of water, leaving your body fully hydrated and feeling great.
A 20-minute steam bath helps open and clear pores, boosts circulation, and detoxes the skin. To create this effect at home, turn your shower to the hottest setting and let it run with the bathroom door shut until the room becomes hot and steamy. Keep the water running for another 10 minutes before turning it off and enjoying the steam treatment.
Spa food uses low-cost ingredients and simple preparations to maximize the health benefits of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A simple salad of arugula with cucumbers, chickpeas, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar is packed with low-fat nutrition and satisfying flavor for less than $5 a serving. Brown rice with sesame seeds and rice vinegar is another light and satisfying snack made from low-cost, everyday ingredients.
Help set the mood with soothing background music. Many spas use the natural sounds of water, wind chimes, and soft flutes to create a peaceful atmosphere. This small addition to the ambiance can transform your living room or bath into a meditation chamber.
Be sure to keep the lights low. Close the blinds and use tea candles for soft light to create a soothing atmosphere. The flicker of candlelight is an especially nice touch.
In addition to feel-good treatments, spa days help detox the mind and body. A good way to promote the flow of toxins out of the body is with tea. Many brands offer a house blend for about $4 a box, or 25 cents a cup. Double up on the tea bags for a potent brew and add a spoonful of local honey for anti-allergy benefits.
SLIPPERS AND ROBE
Commit to relaxing by slipping into your most comfortable robe and slippers for the day. Wearing spa attire while lounging about the house will help prioritize comfort and relaxation. It will also signal to others that you are off the clock and busy taking some personal time. If you don't have a comfortable robe and slippers, substitute an oversized bath towel and buy a pair of plush slippers for just a few dollars at a pharmacy.