Between work, parties, family, and traveling, December can be an awfully stressful month. Add in the harsh effects of winter weather, and we’re talking a body in serious need of some smoothing and soothing.
And while you may not be able to find the time (or the money) to splurge on a day at the spa, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the spa—and all it’s serenity-inducing magic—straight to you. And no, we don’t mean hiring your own personal masseuse.
Instead, follow these five simple steps to having your very own at-home spa day.
Step 1: Set the Mood
Half of what makes spas great is the setting they create—there’s hardly anywhere else that’s as cut off from the world and geared toward relaxation. To re-create this ambiance in your own home, dim the lights (or throw sheer scarves over your lamps), light a few candles with relaxing scents like lavender or vanilla, and put on your comfiest pajamas or robe. Block outside distractions by turning off (not muting, not airplane mode—off) your cell phone, computer, tablet, and anything else that might buzz, beep, or remind you that there is a world outside your home spa. Choose a time when nobody is likely to need you, so that you can feel comfortable being unreachable.
I also recommend putting on some music or white noise, but nothing with words, which can distract you and keep you from truly checking out. If you don’t think you have any music that fits the bill, go to Pandora and listen to the spa channel.
Step 2: Hop in the Shower
Taking a long, steamy shower will open up your pores and help detoxify your body. Before you get in, place your towel and a bottle of your favorite lotion (or even baby oil) on top of the radiator—they’ll be all nice and toasty for you when you get out.
Before soaping up in the shower, gently exfoliate your body and face to remove dead skin cells and gain a healthy glow. I love the MicrodermaMitt, but you can also just use a loofah (for your body), a washcloth (for your face), and hot water. Next, wash your hair, then apply your conditioner. Before rinsing, tie your hair back into a bun, letting the conditioner stay and soak in for the next few minutes while you wash your body. For extra exfoliation, add some sugar to your body wash and, using your loofah, scrub it into your skin in circles.
When you’re done, rinse the body wash off and the conditioner out of your hair. You’ll be silky smooth all over!
Step 3: Relieve Pressure
Once you’re done showering, wrap yourself up in your nice warm towel and apply your lotion or oil all over. (Beware, your lotion will be a tad runny when it’s warm, so squeeze with care.) For maximum absorption, your skin should still be damp.
As you put on the lotion, focus on gently massaging your hands, the soles of your feet, the small of your back, your temples, and any other place you find to be tense. You’d be surprised how working out the pressure in small areas can affect other, larger areas of your body. Use your thumbs and rub in small circles—you’ll feel (almost) like you just got a whole body massage once you’re done.
Step 4: Eat Well
Now that you’ve refreshed your mind and the outside of your body, it’s time to refresh the inside a little. Drink a tall glass of ice water with cucumbers or lemons (or both!) in it, and then relax with a bowl of fruit and a glass of hot herbal tea, a homemade fruit smoothie, or even a little bubbly. You want to feel as clean on the inside as you do on the outside, so avoid eating anything heavy, greasy, or salty. Opt for fresh fruits and veggies, and if you need more than just a nosh, add in some hummus or almonds.
Step 5: Veg Out
Next, set aside some time to let go and unwind: Get lost in a book, meditate, or just sit outside and take in a cool breeze. This is your “you” time, so feel free to spend it any relaxing way you like—except watching your favorite TV show or perusing the internet.
Then, there’s no better way to end your relaxing trip to the home-spa than with a long, uninterrupted nap. You’re sure to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your tasks for the week with a calmer outlook. Before you snuggle up, rub a couple more globs of lotion on your feet and put socks on—they’ll be soft as a baby’s bottom when you wake up.
The secret to the ultimate at-home spa experience is not pricey creams or complicated techniques. It’s just about shutting down for a bit and giving yourself some much-needed TLC. So in between the office parties, family parties, friend parties, and the rest of life this month, take an hour or so and just relax.