“I need a vacation!” I found myself saying after summer vacation ended. And how familiar is this thought: Is it Friday yet? when it’s only Monday at
noon 9 a.m.? These phrases come up especially after a grueling day at work or with the kids, and then we find ourselves at our wits end because exactly when are we supposed to catch a break?! Between the grocery run and the mounds of laundry? If need be—yes!
I think my escape into beauty is just that: a trap door in a locked room with a little breathing space. That sounds utterly abysmal. Way to shatter the illusion of a “perfect” world. In truth, it’s not about perfect at all. If anything life teaches us to roll with both the joys and upsets on the daily. Plus, I’m learning about how important it is to consciously balance the see-saw of our masculine and feminine energies as a key to unlocking our own happiness.
Masculine energy holds our go-getter drive and need to be in control, while feminine energy involves pleasure, receiving, and letting go. Balancing both energies (also named yin/yang) reduces stress levels, increases enjoyment of life, and invites ease. By creating a mini-spa ritual for myself, I release that need to keep going until my stress levels hit the wall like a bowl of spaghetti. (That may or may not have been something that has happened. #nottelling) What’s great is that I can carve that leisure time right in my bathroom with an utterly sensual oil and a few other goodies.
That’s why taking time for self-care is not an occasional indulgence and certainly not a selfish act, but an absolute saving grace in my life. I can tell when someone is not doing it (um…me), how worn out, frazzled, and at loose ends
they I can get. “Unraveled” is the word that comes to mind. It doesn’t end pretty. Think hair-pulling moments, that are so not helpful at all. Not only does self-care restore depleted energy, but it also teaches everyone around us how to self-nurture, including my husband, sons, and daughters, which I consider to be essential life tools. Plus, I find that when I make time for myself, other people value my time more too. It’s a total win.
If escaping to a spa is not on the cards (oh but it will be some day, it will #goals), here are some easy ways to recreate that spa getaway without ever leaving home. You can adapt one or all of these into a feel-good moment. I’d love to hear your ideas for a home spa ritual in the comments too!
An aromatherapy diffuser
Set the mood with a little aromatherapy. To get the full benefits of essential oils, I love using cool-mist diffusers that scent the air while preserving the natural therapeutic properties of the oils. I whip out these diffusers when the house starts to smell funky or when I want to energize the mood or
shoot tranquilizers calm everyone down a few notches.
Pilgrim Collection may be the best line of diffusers I’ve tested out yet—and I’ve owned my fair share over the years. This small business is just getting started—it launched November 2015—but I’m already loving the Euro designs, affordable prices, fair trade practices, and how long the scents last and last. They’re quiet too with only the slightest trickling water sound that I find very soothing and a soft hum that’s barely audible from the mechanism.
The company generously sent me all three types to try, and I can’t pick a favorite. It really depends on your aesthetic preference because they each work wonderfully. For larger rooms, of course, the Best Teo Aroma (on left) will infuse the air with the most fragrance.
There are three different options to choose from:
Best Teo Aroma (left)—Italian handmade ceramic design + FSC certified beech wood, setting for shifting lights, $69.99
Best Alpha Aroma (middle)—black, soft rubber paint, designed in Belgium, $39.99
Best Anton (right)—blue + white, soft rubber paint, designed in Belgium, setting to change lights, $34.99
Of course, have diffuser will need high quality essential oils. Not all EO companies are created equally. I’ve got another post coming up about which brands offer high quality, unadulterated oils. Here’s one way you can determine the quality of your oil and why that’s important. EO’s have inherent therapeutic qualities which means that they don’t just smell good. Studies confirm that essential oils work on deeper levels of healing depending on which scent is used.
Shown in the photo:
- The Optimist Co. Lemon Essential Oil—ideal for uplifting and detoxifying; also in eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree options
- Graydon Germs Away Blend—powered by clove, geranium, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, nutmeg, peppermint, pine, rosemary, sweet orange
- Blue Labelle Organic Essential Oils—choose from orange, ylang ylang, lavender, tea tree
- Plantfolk Apothecary Sacred Space—a few spritzes of palo santo + white sage create a sacred space wherever clearing is needed
Whether it’s Pink Himalayan Salt (I love this elegant bottle that looks heavenly on a bathroom shelf), Magnesium Bath Flakes (love these) or plain Epsom salts (great price), a cupful of this earthy mineral not only grounds the entire body, it helps release toxins. Adding these to a bath also adds a dose of magnesium and other minerals to soothe tired muscles and ease stress. For more bath ideas, check out this ancient ritual that leaves my skin buttery soft and this clearing bath for mind regeneration.
I love a bath because within 20 minutes or less, I feel like a new person. In literature, water often symbolizes “a sea change,” and I can vouch for that experience fully. It helps nurture our emotional-intuitive or feminine aspect.
If there’s no time for a bath, a few shakes of salt under a doormat keep negative energy out of the home. Salt can also ground a space which is why salt lamps make functional and decorative additions, while purifying the air with negative ions.
This ritual is all about restoring balance, so bringing fire into the mix helps kindle our masculine aspects. However, if I’m angry or very tense, I leave this part out. In the winter when our energy levels slow down, we love lighting the fireplace to rev things up and bring the family together. But for year round use, candles are just right for sparking passion, creativity, inspiration, and action.
The Gypsy candle by Prim Botanicals scents the air with a delectable botanical fragrance and comes with THE CUTEST matchbox ever. Blissoma and Woodlot offer an assortment of aromatherapy candles that smell incredible without triggering allergies or emitting toxic fragrances into the air.
I recently discovered one more candle that I’m loving by Lite + Cycle (I’ve got Urban Forest and it’s WOW). The best part: you can strike a match on the underside of the golden lid. How cool is that? I’m going to have to take a photo of it and post to IG because it’s really lovely.
I love the combination of a bath surrounded by candles that fuses both fire and water energies. Add in a wooden bath tray and copper mug and you’ve created the perfect synergy of all five Chinese elements of earth (salt), water, wood, metal, and fire for balancing the body, mind, and spirit.
A ritual isn’t complete without luxuriously fragranced products. A five to 10 minute massage with my favorite Max & Me body oil, Circle of Protection, works wonders, reconnecting me to my body and spirit all at once.
I’ve been hearing about Bodhi & Birch for ages thanks to raves by Galina (A Curious Russian in London) and Nic (Organic Obsessions). The wonderful founder, Elijah Choo, generously sent me this set to try out for my entire family to help us replace my teens’ obsession with Axe products (blech!).
This line deserves all the praise, and there are enough scents to choose from to make everyone happy. I think it’s the perfect brand selection for a spa ritual with enough Euro-flair to make it seem like an actual retreat. The range now includes body oils that my eager paws want to grab through the screen.
Ilā Luxury Essentials Collection
One zippered pouch. Six treats for the hair, skin, and body. Ilā’s Luxury Essentials Collection is what I call head-to-toe pampering with a delicately scented shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bath soak, body lotion, and washcloth. And how pretty are those bottles? They can brighten any bathroom with that assortment of colors. Sometimes one little happy spot in a room is all that’s needed as a reminder to lighten up.
When we surround ourselves in beauty wherever we turn, it does change the way we see the world. I know that it changes mine. Tell me all about what you do to create a little haven from a hectic day in the comments. I’d love to read your ideas!