Tuesday, January 13, 2009

enjoy thesmall stuff

Relax! Enjoy spa treatments at home
Pamper yourself in your own private sanctuary
By Heather Camlot
What better way to wind down after the busy day than with a spa treatment?

“A spa provides a change in routine, in structure, that almost forces one to relax,” explains Annette Foglino, author of Spa Journeys (powerHouse Books, 2004).

Relax in any room
It can be costly and time-consuming to visit a spa regularly. But you can easily incorporate some treatments and indulgences into a daily or weekly routine right at home, and at a fraction of the cost. Even adding 10 to 15 minutes a day can help, says Foglino.

Find out how you can turn your home into a retreat by taking a tour through the following rooms to create the ultimate spa experience.

First stop: The bathroom
Second stop: The vanity
Third stop: The kitchen
Fourth stop: The living room
Fifth stop: The bedroom
First stop: the bathroom
With working long hours at the office, taking care of the kids, looking after the house and trying to fit in exercise, finding time to relax is hard work. “It may sound strange that we need to learn to relax, but we do, especially in today’s ‘asap’ society,” says Foglino.

For a blissful break, try a nice hot bath. Warm water lowers blood pressure and promotes peace and tranquility, says Jo Glanville-Blackburn in her book Home Spa: Relax (Ryland Peters & Small, 2003).

Add a few drops of essential oils. Frankincense, lavender, neroli and sandalwood help to calm and balance emotions. Read the Essential Oil Profiles and find out what oils work best and which ones to avoid. For instance, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before using aromatherapy oils.

Use bath-specific beauty products. Try Lush’s Serenity or Blissful Bathing packs, or pick individual items such as the Fever massage bar. Aveeno has a Stress Relief line, with foaming bath, body wash and moisturizing lotion made with oatmeal, lavender, chamomile and ylang-ylang oils.

Get comfy. Don’t forget a bath pillow, some scented candles and soothing music — Foglino suggests The Scottish Lute by Ronn McFarlane and Felix Mendelssohn’s Works for Cello & Piano by Steven Isserlis and Melvyn Tan — to transform your bath into an at-home floating meditation station.

Second stop: The vanity
A facial can not only give your beauty routine a lift but your mood as well. Follow these five steps to rejuvenation.

Cleanse: Remove eye makeup, wash your face with a cleanser, and then apply an alcohol-free toner.

Exfoliate: Gently massage an exfoliant into your wet face and neck to remove dead skin cells and smooth out skin.

Steam: Fill a bowl with hot water, place a towel over your head, and lean over for about five minutes to soften skin.

Mask: Apply a thin layer of a product specially designed for your skin type. Wash off after about 15 minutes.

Moisturize: While skin is still damp, apply moisturizer.

Visit Honey.com or the W Network for recipes to make your treatments with ingredients you might have in your kitchen. Concoct a facial scrub from cornmeal and yogourt as well as a body glow from coconut and turmeric powder.

Third stop: The kitchen
Eat your veggies. For those who aren’t eating 5 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, Glanville-Blackburn offers a few incentives: foods high in potassium, such as bananas, kiwi and avocado, help relieve stress and anxiety; papaya cleanses the digestive system; celery combats anxiety and depression. Other foods to indulge in include sunflower seeds to help balance blood sugar and fight tiredness and irritability, and oats to calm nerves.

Prepare delectable dishes. For meal ideas, visit Spa Magazine for nutritious recipes such as grilled apple salad, honey pecan crusted chicken and orange-lime cheesecake. Assemble your favourite spa recipes together in a program such as Microsoft Word or Excel, or collect them in our recipe template, and keep them available when you want to indulge in a spa day.

If you prefer working from a cookbook, pick up Healthy Spa Cuisine: 400 Signature Recipes from the World’s Top Spas (Adams Media Corporation, 2003) or The Rancho La Puerta Cookbook (Broadway Books, 1998).

Fourth stop: The living room
Take a mind-body break by placing your yoga mat in a quiet room and spending 15 minutes practising deep breathing or yoga moves. Try meditating to the American Massage Therapy Association’s Massage Room with its calming images and music.

Keep a record of all the relaxation techniques (such as sipping herbal tea before bed and getting a massage) that have worked for you. “Learn how to take more time for yourself by creating a few rituals,” says Glanville-Blackburn. “If you can make 10 of these happen in your week, then I certainly believe that you will boost your own sense of self and find new paths to well-being that work for you.”

Fifth stop: The bedroom
One of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself is get a massage, either from a partner or by your own hands. For a little practice, check out these books: The Book of Massage (Simon & Shuster, 2001) and Kindtouch Massage: Self-Massage for Health and Well-Being (Sterling Publications, 2002).

“I’ve learned to give myself a foot and hand reflexology massage using essential oils. I even do this while watching TV — perhaps not very spa-like, but it’s still relaxing,” says Foglino, who also recommends rubbing lavender, jasmine and almond oils into your shoulders and neck. About Massage.com is a great resource for different techniques.