As most of us hunker down for a longer self-quarantine amid COVID-19, the onslaught of stress, anxiety and listlessness mounts. “In these uncertain times, we must find ways to connect with our inner selves and create little sanctuaries within our spaces, both of which can help put the mind at ease,” says Karina Chung, director of spa at Rosewood Miramar Beach. “There are a number of ways to channel the relaxing atmosphere of a luxury spa within one’s home.”
To make your new normal more serene, we consulted some of the world’s best spas. Whether you seek self-care or more spa-like surroundings, these home wellness tips will deliver.
Take A Hawaii-Inspired Bath
Even though you can’t retreat to Hualalai Spa, a tropical indoor-outdoor oasis in Hawaii’s Big Island, you can experience some of its bliss. Cecilia Hercik, director of spa & sports club, breaks down its Apothecary Body Treatment.
“This niu [‘coconut’] bath treatment is created with items that represent the Hawaiian Islands, but are also commonly found in the household,” Hercik says. “Light some candles, put on a playlist of soothing music, grab your softest robe and enjoy!
- 1 spoonful coconut oil
- 12 ounces coconut water
- 1 12-ounce can coconut milk
- 1 spoonful cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
- 1/2 cup sea salt or Epsom salt
- Lime wedge
- Cocoa butter
- Scrub: Place a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl. Add coconut oil, 1 spoon of cocoa powder and form a paste. You will use this mixture to exfoliate your knees and elbows once you are soaking.
- Bath: Fill your tub with warm water. Add 1/2 cup of Epsom or sea salt to your soak. Pour in a can of coconut milk. Then relax in a steamy (but not too hot) tub.
- Drink: Fill a glass of coconut water with a wedge of lime and keep it near the tub to enjoy while soaking. (If you have a coconut sorbet in your freezer, this is the perfect time to eat it.)
- Grand finale: After the bath, slather on the cocoa butter to leave your skin soft and supple with a hint of chocolate.
Create Your Own Meditation Room
According to the experts at Five-Star The Phoenician Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, this could be an area rarely used in your home, such as a guest room, or an outdoor space, like a patio. Accent it with candles, plush decorative pillows and throw blankets, perhaps a yoga mat and an aromatherapy diffuser. Download apps like Headspace or Calm for guided meditation programs and relaxing spa music.
Most importantly, select a regular time each day to visit this reinvented space and take care of yourself.
Give Yourself A Head Massage
This tension-busting technique from the luxurious Five-Star SE Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico only takes three minutes:
- Rub your hands to generate heat.
- Reach your left shoulder blade with your right hand and press firmly with your fingertips while slowly rotating your neck in both directions. Repeat three times. Then change hands.
- Using the index and middle fingers of both hands, press between the eyebrows and bring the fingers up the forehead and down to the temples. Repeat five times.
- Cover your eyes with your hands and apply pressure with the 10 fingertips on your forehead. Slide your fingers up and back to reach the nape of your neck. Repeat three times.
- Gently massage your ears using your index finger and thumb, rubbing from the outer top portion to the earlobe. Slide your index finger on the back of your ears up and down.
Sniffing a pleasant scent can enhance your mood, says Connie Pong, spa director of Macau’s Morpheus Spa (which was Forbes Travel Guide’s top-scoring spa in 2020). Pong says the molecules of the plant essence stimulate the limbic system of the brain, which can balance emotions.
Choose the fragrance that will cure your ailment: essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, have a calming effect, while citrus oils, like sweet orange or lemon, can uplift. To boost your immune and respiratory system, include eucalyptus or tea tree into the blends for their anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Oils like rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang make you feel pampered.
Light up the aroma warmer or electric diffuser and fragrant candles or incense. Or add a few oil drops into your bath or into a water bottle and spray the room.
Treat Yourself To A Proper Spa Facial
Nabil Gomes, spa director of The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., explains how to elevate your at-home facial (it is gentle enough to be done once a week):
- Pull your hair back with a headband so that it is out of your face.
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and warm water. Pat dry with a towel.
- Fill your bathroom sink with steaming hot water.
- Drape a towel over your head and lean forward until your face is a comfortable distance from the water. The towel creates a tent over the water, trapping the steam inside. Keep your head over the steam for a few minutes, until your face is warm and flushed. Pro tip: add lemon, fresh mint or even thyme to the water for a sinus-clearing, invigorating steam bath.
- With your face still wet, spread an exfoliating scrub using small circular motions, being careful to avoid the delicate skin around your eyes. If you do not have an exfoliating scrub, Gomes’ family recipe is to mix 1 cup of coconut oil with 2 cups of granulated sugar. Add 30 drops of your favorite essential oil (she loves lavender) and stir together. This should make 2 cups of exfoliating scrub to save for the next time.
- Thoroughly rinse off the scrub with warm water and pat dry.
- Apply your favorite facial mask according to product directions, avoiding eyes and lips. Oily skin should use a mud or clay mask, and dry skin should opt for a cream mask.
- Play soothing music and lie down for the recommended time for your mask to penetrate. Add an eye mask or cucumber slices.
- Rinse your face thoroughly with warm water.
- Splash your face with ice cold water to seal your pores. Pat dry.
- Apply your preferred serums and moisturizers, but avoid products with retinol or exfoliators that may irritate your freshly scrubbed skin.
Make Your Locks Luxuriant
“To keep your hair beautiful and luscious, I recommend applying coconut oil to the tips only, then brush through and wrap in a pre-heated towel,” says Marlène Belvalette, spa director of Sense, A Rosewood Spa at Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris. “After 15 minutes, rinse with hot water and shampoo twice.”
Jump On Journaling
If you’re new to mindfulness, journaling is a good introduction. It gives you the opportunity for self-reflection, tracking health patterns and acknowledging your feelings. Evidence indicates that the act of journaling can also contribute to having an improved mood, memory and perspective, reports Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat, which incorporates the practice into its guests’ itineraries.
It can take just five minutes for a session. To inspire your writing, Lanai, Hawaii’s new all-inclusive wellness escape offers a series of prompts:
- What is my intention today?
- What does being well mean to you?
- How can I be more present in this moment?
- How do my current movement goals align with my overall wellbeing?
- How do my current nourishment goals align with my overall wellbeing?
- What impact would you like to have in this world?
Opt For Oil Pulling
The Spa at The Miami Beach EDITION’s spa director, Vince Smit, says his morning routine keeps him healthy and strengthens his immune system. First he does oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil in his mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. Smit suggests starting each day by taking one tablespoon of coconut oil and circulating it for at least five minutes (the eight-year practitioner does it for up to 20 minutes).
“I carry on with my morning shower and prepare for the day as I’m swooshing,” he says. “The bacteria that accumulates in the mouth overnight are attracted to the fatty oils, and they leave the system when you spit it out. This also helps to clear mucus and congestion in the chest.”
Afterward, he drinks a large glass of fresh-pressed lemon water. “This makes the body alkaline for the day and gets the metabolism going, while building immunity with the vitamin C,” he says. “I don’t ingest anything for 10 minutes after, to allow the lemon water to take its course through the body.”
Have A CBD Massage
Replicate the CBD Recover E. Massage, one of the most popular treatments at The Spa by Equinox Hotels in New York City. While any CBD cream or oil would work, the spa suggests incorporating Function Botanicals’ 500MG CBD Cream with Magnesium into an at-home full-body rubdown.
By massaging the cream into the pressure points of the body, the phytocannabinoid-rich CBD extract may relieve or prevent injury, improve flexibility, as well as boost mind and body performance, a necessity during these trying times.
Sip And Steam
One of Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis spa director Erin Stewart’s favorite self-care routines involves adding Pure Inventions Tranquility Vanilla to either warm or chilled water. “The blend contains chamomile, passionflower and magnesium—all-natural products with a great taste,” she says. “These natural stress-relieving ingredients bring calmness and balance throughout the day and evening.”
Stewart pairs the drink with a steam session. To re-create it at home, turn on the hot water in your shower (keeping the vent off if you have one), let the steam rise, add a couple drops of lavender or eucalyptus oil. Immediately enter the shower and take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and deeply exhaling through your mouth. “This will help relieve stress and provide a perfect antidote to a restless mind,” she says. “I recommend this ritual before going to bed—it naturally aids in a better night’s sleep.”
Let Your Garden Grow
When you need to relax and de-stress, turn to greenery. “If you are able to garden, this is a great time to nurture plants and flowers,” says Eduardo Pinet, spa director of The Spa at Las Ventanas in Los Cabos. And if you don’t have a yard, he suggests bringing a garden into your home with potted plants or herbs. “[They] can be amazing companions that inherently bring positivity into the space.”
Do Dry Brushing
Before hopping into the shower, dry brush your body with a natural-bristle brush in long, sweeping strokes toward your heart. “Not only is this exfoliating,” says Carrie Sotebeer, director of spa at The West Hollywood EDITION, “but it also increases circulation and stimulates our lymphatic system.” To really make it an at-home spa treatment, after your shower, massage some aromatic lotion into your skin.
Add Natural Décor
Natural and organic materials like wood help create a calming environment, the spa team says. Wooden bath brushes and loofahs make a soak a much more pleasant and cozy experience. Small decorative touches can foster a more tranquil and luxurious atmosphere. Seashells, marble and natural stones exude soothing vibes into the space.
Release Neck Tension
If tension seeps into your neck, try stretching. Tara Cruz, senior spa director at Five-Star The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, says to rest your chin on one shoulder, then the other. Next go chin to chest and chin to sky and repeat. Cruz adds that an easy rule of thumb is to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Count Your Blessings
When Nikki Heyder, head of spa at Desa Potato Head in Bali, wakes up each morning, she heads to her yoga mat for some breath-focused meditation. Then Heyder sets a goal for the day and says five things she’s grateful for in her life. “Practicing gratitude has been proven to release dopamine,” she says.
A neurotransmitter, dopamine sends signals to the brain that it’s receiving a reward or pleasure. And alongside gratitude’s scientific benefits, it’s good to hold onto the positive amid the somberness.
Hydrate Your Skin
Everyone knows that it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. But self-proclaimed homebody Zorka Jovovic, the partnering spa manager at The Bodrum EDITION in Turkey, has another trick for keeping thirsty skin quenched: Aromatherapy Associates’ Hydrating Rose Face Mask.
“Keeping social distance and being at home most of our days tends to make the skin a bit drier than usual,” Jovovic says. “Without fail, the damask-rose-water-infused gel masks return vital hydration to my skin, flooding it with moisture and creating a dewy, fresh look.”