Pampering ourselves isn’t a luxury so much as a necessity to refresh and renew mind, body and spirit
A Spa Specialty
Spas have been synonymous with pam- pering throughout the ages. “Every civi- lization around the world has had some kind of communal gathering place for people to practice ‘self-healing’,” says Jeremy McCarthy, group director of Spa & Wellness for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and author of The Psychol- ogy of Spas & Wellbeing.
From ancient Greek bathhousesto Japan’s beloved natural hot springs, spas have long served as sacred places of healing and restoration. Indeed, many treatments provided at today’s eco-spas draw inspiration from tradi- tional uses of herbs, honey and olive oil to care for skin and hair. Locally, natu- ral spas’ pampering services may range from botanically based facials and mud masks to herbal body wraps and hot stone massage.
More Pampering Spots
While busy people tend to put off self- care, there are treats to suit any sched- ule or budget—from getting a quick manicure or pedicure at a neighbor- hood eco-nail salon to visiting a yoga or wellness center.
For a quick, healthy pick-me-up, visit an organic juice bar. Opt for businesses that feature fresh, whole ingredi- ents rather than pre-mixed powders or sugar-laden juices; to give the immune system an extra lift, add a natural booster shot of ginger or turmeric. Mostgrocery stores now carry cold-pressed juices that can pack as much as six pounds of produce into a single bottle.
An honored ritual that continues to restore spent spirits is drinking a cup of tea. Whether sipped at home, as part of a British high tea featuring Earl Grey or as part of a traditional Japanese green tea ceremony steeped in Zen, tea time allows us to slow down and savor the moment along with the aromas in our cup. Also, antioxidant-rich tea is fortifying.
Salt room visits, another healthy pleasure that has spread throughout the U.S., dates back 150 years to an indigenous Polish practice. Research indicates that salt therapy, or halo- therapy, can help improve conditions such as asthma and allergies and support the immune, nervous and lymphatic systems (see
Tinyurl.com/ SaltRoomPampering). Universally restful salt rooms also offer a unique sensory experience.
Another highly accessible way to treat body and mind is to move in a joyful way. Consider taking up a playful new class for de-stressing and stretching such as trapeze yoga, conscious dance or any other dance. Aerial yoga, using suspended trapeze- like supports, helps lengthen the spine and strengthen muscles in ways not easily achieved on the ground. Dance delivers health and tness bonuses in the midst of having fun.
If we’re not in the habit of pampering ourselves, it’s time to stretch our beliefs about what we deserve. We’ll find bliss is an attainable luxury.
Make Home a Spa Zone
Between professional spa visits, a do- it-yourself spa day at home can be a rewarding and economical treat. “You can create a full day of home spa treat- ments using ingredients most people have in their kitchen,” advises Lise Andersen, an expert in nature-based cosmetics from Copenhagen, Denmark, and the owner of LisaLise.com, offering custom skin and hair care products, in- dividualized formulations and beginner- friendly DIY kits.
One of Andersen’s home skincare favorites is simple raw honey, used as a cleanser and face mask. “You can use it alone or in conjunction with an added ingredient like almond meal or ground oats. It rinses off beautifully and both softens and cleanses,” she says.
A “facial tea” made with herbs like chamomile, lavender and elder blos- som is another of the Scandinavian’s at-home favorites. Simply boil water and pour it into a bowl with a handful of herbs, drape a towel over the head, embracing the face and breathe deeply. “It smells wonderful while opening the pores and hydrating the skin,” Andersen says.
Dry brushing with a mitt made with a natural ber like sisal or jute serves as a quick, everyday pick-me- up. It stimulates and exfoliates the body and helps boost circulation.
For beautiful cuticles, Andersen suggests a handmade scrub made from raw brown sugar or Himalayan salt combined with a carrier oil like almond or grapeseed. It exfoliates and hydrates, leaving hands feeling silky smooth.
To get the most out of a home spa day, prep materials in advance and let family members know that it requires absolute solitude. Complete the spa- like atmosphere with relaxing music and naturally scented beeswax candles.