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Now Is a Great Time to Pull Out All the Self-Care Stops
Become your own personal spa director and indulge in treatments at home
Self care can be construed as being SELFish, but it is the exact opposite! It is just as vital as good, healthy nutrition, and a vigorous workout to elevate the heart rate. It can also encompass mind exercises to decrease anxiety and to do what we spa people refer to as “quieting the mind.” All these components are part of creating and maintaining a healthy environment. It reminds me of the famous phrase from an unknown author, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
2020 has been challenging on so many fronts that it can seem overwhelming to prioritize yourself and allow for a moment of peace and quietude. The constant barrage of “breaking news,” health concerns from the pandemic, the uncertainty of the future, and a divisive election cycle have all risen to an apex of frenzy and fear. How can we achieve mindfulness or meditate with this noise and insanity?
Here are some easy things that I have tested and tried at home that you can do to relax and reboot in an effort to embrace yourself and start a regimen of daily self care. Please consider these as rituals, and do not let outside interruptions (cell phones, screaming kids, needy spouses) get in the way. Let others know that you are disconnecting for an hour and stick to it!
In my home, I have created a nook for my buddhas, and I usually meditate with them, allowing them to join me in my spiritual journey, guided by my thoughts and sometimes my utterances. Now before you go out and buy buddhas, which is not necessary, find a place in your home or outside where you can retreat into rest and relaxation. Wear Consumer Reports’ fave Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and play your preferred music — my personal inclination is anything by Chopin or Debussy.
Showers are efficient for a quick rinse, but a bath is sacred. Think back to bath time as a child, when it was treasured and really intended to wind the day down. There is nothing like immersing yourself in a tub filled with hot steaming water that is delicately scented with 100% organic and naturally sourced aromatic oils such as Cliganic’s lavender. Don’t apply oils directly onto skin, just add a few drops in the water with, if you want, an equal amount of an emulsifier for blending. I love adding salts, including Epsom, which is easy to find, inexpensive and highly beneficial for muscle pain and stress relief. My newest obsession, though, is Olverum Bath Oil, a cult favorite from Germany that enraptures all your senses and perfumes your bathroom thanks to its magical blend of natural essential oils including fir, eucalyptus, verbena and juniper.
Bathing rituals date back to the Roman times where people would “take the waters.” My faux French grandmother (my real one passed away when I was a baby, so she appointed herself as a replacement) went to Evian, France, a place known for the healing properties of its natural mineral water, for a month every September; the trips probably helped her live to the ripe old age of 94. She would come back and regale me with stories of the time she spent at the Michelin-starred restaurant while there — after all, a “cure” is not a cure in France, unless gourmet food and fine wines are part of it!
I have to admit that for the first 75 days of the pandemic, I did not pay much attention to my feet, since the weather was dreadful, akin to our moods. In May, I finally bared my tootsies and realized that I was in withdrawal for someone to soothe my soles (and soul). Full disclosure: I detest feet. My father used to torture me by annoying me with his; my daughters have now taken on that responsibility to their great amusement and my sheer horror. This is one body part I am exuberantly joyful to outsource, even if I can give myself a great pedicure at home. I booked an appointment at a local nail place and brought my own implements and my favorite natural nail polish system of all time, Dazzle Dry.
Founded by a bio-organic chemist, this four-step nail care range is the best long wearing, quick drying (five minutes!) non-smudging, non-peeling, non-damaging polish for your nails. I felt totally safe inside the salon; every station had plexiglass between clients and the nail tech was literally six feet away wearing full protective gear. If you can’t stomach the thought of going to a salon, invite a friend over who is part of your quaranteam and exchange pedis (unless like me, you label yourself as podophobic!).
At-home hair disasters need attention pronto. I am the luckiest girl in the world, since I happen to be married to a hairstylist and was fortunate enough to have at-home hair coloring sessions when hair salons were closed during the pandemic. I did not contribute to the overnight success of at-home coloring kits. One of the major differences between professional and at-home color is the quality of the product; the latter strips hair of the hydrolipidic film that makes hair shiny, and instead renders locks to resemble stalks of hay. To counteract this, it is critical to nourish and hydrate hair, especially because as we age, it becomes thinner, brittle and damaged.
As a double-processed blonde, I use an ultra-deep conditioner and usually leave it in overnight (a minimum of 60 minutes regardless of what is written in the directions). I section the dry hair and knead the mask into each strand, moving from the bottom to the top (where it is less needed). I then use a wide-tooth comb to gently braid my hair, and I’ll put a towel on my pillow to absorb any excess product. The next day, I use a nourishing shampoo and barely any conditioner since my hair is so soft, supple and moisturized. Mask treatments also help to eliminate frizz and flyaways. I love the Genesis Strengthening Hair Mask from L’Oreal’s Kerastase.
My father used to have a massage therapist come to the house every week and when I turned 15, my papa asked me if I wanted to experience one. That was the beginning of an addiction that is in full force today. Contrary to most, I use massage as a therapeutic tool to address lingering injuries and as recovery from exercise. It is not a time for me to fall asleep but rather to breathe through the heightened sensation of having a knot being untied under my skin without any sedatives. Sounds painful, right? It can be, but the long-term benefits greatly outweigh the short-term discomfort. So when massage was once again allowed in New York post-lockdown, I immediately booked a session and set up an area outdoors at our family home in the country where the therapist and I were both comfortable (and wearing masks of course). Now that the temperatures are cooling, this is probably not a great option, but many day spas have reopened with new draconian measures to keep clients and therapists safe. Pandemic aside, many people enjoy having massage therapists come to their home. If you prefer a house call, reach out to your local spa or massage academies to inquire if their therapists make house calls. Make sure the specialist is certified — massage therapists are regulated by national and regional associations, the largest of which is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which also has a directory of approved providers.
Anna Moine is CoveyClub’s Spa Ambassador
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