You’re overwhelmed at work. Projects are piling up around the house. Do you feel like you need to relax and recharge? Of course!
But you don’t have to book an expensive weekend at a resort to soothe your stressed-out soul. Wellness coaches say many of the benefits you’ll get from a trip to the spa can be easily replicated at home, with a little DIY—and at a fraction of the cost. Treat yourself to a break in the comfort of your own house (on #SelfCareSunday, perhaps?). Here’s how experts recommend giving a boost to your bliss.
Block Out Time (And Commit To It)
Look at your calendar and plan a half or full day each month for your retreat, says Flagstaff, Ariz.–based nutrition and yoga coach Val Minos. “Take it as seriously as you would a work meeting or appointment,” she says, “and let everyone know you’re not available at that time.” Don’t have that much time to kick back? Take what you can. One hour a week or even a few moments each day will help lighten your mood, lower stress and sharpen your thinking, she says.
Create A Peaceful Space
Gather up some throw pillows, a rug or a comfy chair in a room where you have privacy. Try to keep it free of clutter. And, perhaps most important, check your devices at the door. “Turn off the cell phone,” says New York City–based therapist and health coach Rachel Gersten. “Spend some time unplugged, reading a book or meditating.”
Focus On Breathing
Controlled breathing exercises have been shown to reduce stress, increase alertness and boost your immune system. Minneapolis-based health and lifestyle coach Samantha Kelley suggests the “three second” method: Breathe in for three seconds, hold for three seconds, and then exhale for three seconds. “It can really make a difference in lowering your anxiety and quieting your overactive mind,” she says. Or, even easier, just smile. “It sounds silly, but the act of smiling may lower blood pressure and reduce stress,” says Kelley. “Even if it’s a pretend smile, your body reacts by releasing feel-good chemicals like serotonin.”
Make Your Own Spa Treatments
Transform your nook into an oasis of calm by appealing to all your senses. First, use a diffuser to release aromatherapy fragrances into the air. Wood-based scents are grounding, peppermint and citrus are energizing, and lavender is relaxing, says Seattle-based mindfulness life coach Melissa McClain. And while you could splurge on a massage at a day spa, it’s possible to loosen muscles by taking a warm bath with magnesium sulfate and then stretching afterward to ease out kinks. To make your bath feel even more indulgent, slather on a homemade face mask or hair mask while you soak.
Take It Outside
A truly effective self-care routine isn’t limited to four walls. A recent study found that when people take time to notice the natural world around them, their general happiness and sense of connectedness increases. Minos suggests taking a brisk walk or enjoying a picnic lunch. The best part? You don’t have to do it alone. “For some people, self care is about connecting with others,” says Austin, Tex.–based personal trainer Karen Rooff. “For others, self care is about retreating alone into silence. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you choose activities that are nourishing for you.”
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Read more: 8 Easy Ways to Sneak in More Exercise
By Katrina Brown Hunt
Goodful: Gua Sha Facial Massage in 15 Minutes or Less
If you’ve never done gua sha on yourself before, practice testing out your firm, medium, and light pressures on your forearm before moving to your face.
Start with a clean face, clean hands, and a clean gua sha tool. Put a small amount of facial oil on your face to help with the gliding of the tool.
The most important thing to remember is the angle of the tool. You don’t want to be perpendicular to your face. You want to hold the tool at an angle around 15 degrees where just your thumb can fit under. Use your opposite hand as a support hand to give a slight pull.
Repeat each of these strokes 5 times:
- Start on the back of your neck and use the notched side and firm pressure, pulling up on your spine toward the base of your skull.
- Using the straight side, go up the side of your neck. And then slowly work your way toward the center, lightening the pressure as you get toward the front of your neck.
- Using the notched edge and medium pressure, anchor your jaw with your opposite hand on your chin and then glide the notch upward along the jawline.
- Using the flat side and medium pressure, glide from the side of the nose over cheek up toward the ear.
- Using light pressure, glide under the eye and up toward the temples.
- Using the notched side and medium pressure, move across the brow bone while the center of the forehead is anchored.
- Using the flat side, move from brows up the forehead toward the hairline.
- After doing one full side of the face, move to the other, then bask in your gua sha glow!