By Natalie Nichols, Health & Beauty Writer
Face it: We aren't superhuman and we all need a breather sometimes! But between work, the gym and life commitments, it can be difficult to find the time (and cash)for a relaxing day at the spa. However, it's important to take time for yourself in order to live a healthy, balanced life. So, relax. You don't need to give up an entire day or rack up that credit card bill to pamper yourself. Creating your own spa experience can be easy using things you may already have on hand at home. Try these 10 ideas to relax more and stress less.
Scented wellness candles are used in spas during massages and other body treatments to help relax the mind and body. The good news is that even if yo're in a rush to get to the office or an evening event, simply lining your vanity with some scented candles will help quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit. Look for candles that contain essential oils. When lit, this type of candle releases a continuous yet faint scent into the air as it burns. If you're looking to relax, opt for the scent of lavender. Or, reach for a candle with invigorating eucalyptus for a quick burst of energy.
When you walk into a spa, you typically hear soft, tranquil music playing faintly in the background, and thereís good reason for that! Music is known for its ability to slow down the mind and relax the body, decreasing your heart rate as you listen. Relaxing sounds also help increase serotonin production, which helps to reduce blood pressure, increases happy thoughts and can even treat anxiety symptoms. Slower-tempo melodies and repetitive notes are usually a good bet if you want to relax, but what relaxes one person might actually cause another to gain more energy! Try this test to see which type of music relaxes you best: While listening to music, check your pulse. If it it quickens during certain beats, then the music might be more energizing than not. If your pulse slows down, then you've found the perfect fit.
Essential oils can be found in practically any spa and are used in everything from relaxing massage oils, to body scrubs and moisturizers. Extracted from fragrant plants and flowers, essential oils come in a slew of pleasant scents and varieties that offer amazing benefits to your skin and body, such as restoring skin vitality and generating new, healthy cells. Whatever oils you choose, try to invest in natural essential oils and not the synthetic varieties, which usually donít have the same effects as their natural counterparts. To get the benefits of essential oils at home, fill a bowl with warm water, add a few drops of your favorite oil, then soak a washcloth in the water. Use the washcloth as a compress on your face and neck for just five minutes. Repeat as necessary, then use a towel to dry your skin. Youíll be absolutely glowing after just one application. Pro tip: Never apply essential oils directly to your skin. Less is best, especially if your skin is sensitive.
We all know that weekly trips to a massage therapist would be great to release unwanted tension and stress from our achy, tired muscles--but we donít all have the time or money for that. Thankfully you can get similar relaxation benefits at home with a quick and simple scalp massage. Just one scalp massage can provide deep relaxation, relieve pain in your head and neck and help ease eye strain from all that computer screen-staring. When done on an ongoing basis, scalp massages can even relieve you from chronic headaches and migraines. Donít have a friend or spouse available to give you a scalp massage? No worries. You can find do-it-yourself scalp massagers at your favorite online retailer or health and wellness store.
The next time you go for your morning bowl of oatmeal, you may want to think about slathering those oats on your face. No joke! Oats actually offer amazing skin benefits due to their amino acid content, and can moisturize even the driest skin, naturally and quickly. Some skin care products found in spas contain oats for just this purpose. But, instead of shelling out the cash, try using what you have in your kitchen pantry to save money and time. To make an easy oatmeal face mask, all you need to do is combine 2 tablespoons of plain oats with plain yogurt or water. Mix these ingredients to your desired consistency then apply to your face. Let the mixture soak into your skin for just five minutes. Rinse, and reap the healthy skin rewards!
Many spas offer invigorating sugar and salt scrubs for healthy skin exfoliation purposes. And because skin is the body's largest organ, taking care of it is very important. Our skin absorbs unhealthy toxins every day in all environments, and takes a beating when it comes to too much sun exposure. Plus, clogged pores from sweating during daily workouts can hold unwanted toxins which result in unsightly blemishes. So, the next time you're in the shower, skip the bar of soap. Instead, reach for a salt or sugar scrub, add a small amount to your sponge or washcloth and gently slough away old, dead skin cells to reveal soft, glowing, healthy skin. If you have extremely dry elbows or knees, simply cut an orange in half and rub the fruit's flesh on dry areas to reveal smoother, healthier skin. Plus, the smell of citrus will give you a boost of energy!
Contrary to popular belief, pedicures aren't just for keeping feet looking pretty! Our feet typically endure a lot of stress every day simply from walking. And when you engage in exercise, running or other strenuous activities, your feet can take a beating. Pedicures can be a great way to keep your feet not only looking and feeling good, but healthy too. However, just like many spa treatments, a pedicure can cost a pretty penny. Instead of breaking the bank, try an at-home foot soak. Simply add warm water to to a large bowl, plus 2 to 4 tablespoons of sea salt and your favorite essential oil (both peppermint and rosemary work great as deodorizers). Let your feet soak in the warm bath as long as you'd like. Soaking will relax the muscles in your feet and soften your skin. When finished and dry, pick your favorite nail polish and give your toes a pop of color!
Steaming isn't just a healthy way to cook your favorite veggies! This cooking technique is great for achieving healthy skin, too. Steaming helps retain nutrients in your skin much like it does in your food. So, the next time you look in the mirror and see clogged pores or a dull complexion, steam things up to reveal brighter, healthier skin. Simply soak two small towels in hot water, drape each on either side of your face and hold for just five minutes. Pat your face dry with a clean towel and then proceed with your regular skin cleansing regimen. You'll see results after just one steam.
So many of us shy away from a hot bath and opt for a quick shower instead. But one of the most relaxing things we can do for our bodies is to take some time to soak away the stress and tension in our tired muscles--and all you need is a regular, old bathtub for that! So, the next time you have a little bit of extra time to pamper yourself, light some candles, turn on your favorite tunes, run a hot bath, lay back, shut your eyes and soak your cares, aches and pains away. You can improve this stress-relieving activity by adding aromatic bath salts, essential oils or even bubbles to your bath water. Your mind and body will be much more relaxed when you step out of the bath as opposed to your usual shower.
If you don't have time for a hot, relaxing bath, go ahead and take that shower-- ut be prepared to sing while you wash up! You don't have to be classically trained or even have the best voice to reap the relaxation and stress-relieving benefits of singing. Singing is pleasurable, reduces stress and can even give your abs a little bit of a workout! Singing a tune can also improve circulation and release feel-good chemicals in the brain. So, the next time you're stressed and about to snap, instead of blowing up at your coworkers, spouse or the kids, try singing out the stress. You'll step out of the shower feeling good--and it won't cost you a single cent.
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