SELF-CARE DAY: HOW TO CREATE AN AT-HOME, D.I.Y SPA & RETREAT DAY
Self-care is something that we could all make more time for. It is not indulgent. It is necessary. Think of it as an MOT for our mind and body. The difference being that an MOT happens once a year, whereas self-care days would, ideally, happen once a month.
By giving yourself permission to rest, relax and care for yourself, you are sending a positive and valuable message to yourself that you are worth looking after and nurturing. You will also help yourself to feel and cope better with stress if you have taken a small amount of breathing space and ‘me time’.
Self-care days allow us time to do some self-work, and consider how we are feeling and how we would like to feel going forwards. Take a moment right now to think: How are you feeling right now? How would you like to feel?
This plan for a self-care day includes elements taken from spa days - which focus on treatments that relax our bodies then minds – and retreat days - which focus on quiet times and meditation which relaxes our mind and then our body.
Taking time to invest in yourself in a holistic way, seeing yourself as mind, body and soul rather than as disconnected parts, and taking time out, just for you, to nurture, contemplate and grow is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
Before your Spa Day
First things first, let’s schedule a time and place for the at home spa and retreat day. Grab your diary and pick your day. Ideally a few hours or a whole day that you have to yourself. Pick the time you will begin and end the retreat day. Then select the rooms you will use. The bathroom and bedroom are great rooms to relax in, as you can have a soak in the bath or lie down on your bed with a face mask on and meditate. Once you have decided on the where and the when, take out your diary and mark it down as an important appointment with yourself that you can’t miss. The only rule: actually do it. Show up for yourself.
Plan ahead. Make sure that the rooms you will be using are clean and tidy, and as calming and relaxing as possible, so give them a quick spruce before your retreat day starts.
Gather together all of the things that you will need beforehand. Think about what healthy, tasty food you might enjoy. Ideally reduce carbs, caffeine, sugar and alcohol, so that your system has a chance to detox and rest a little. Eat lighter food that is easy to digest and nutritious like fruit and vegetables, salads, soups, smoothies, juices. Also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and herbal teas that have the correct benefits for your needs: chamomile tea is relaxing, peppermint tea aids with digestion, and lemon and ginger tea is an energising, mood-boosting ‘pick me up’ if you have been under the weather.
Then choose pampering face, body and hair products such as facial cleanser, exfoliator, face mask, toner, serum or oil, moisturiser and a jade roller (if you have one) for a facial.
Steaming your face is another thing you can do before you have your facial to open the pores and aid the removal of impurities. Just add hot (but not boiling) water to a large bowl and add a herbal teabag. Then place your face over the bowl (not too close as you don’t want to scald or burn yourself), drape a towel over your head and breathe deeply for 10 minutes. (Use with caution if you have sensitive skin or any skin condition, and take care not to scald yourself)
For the bath (or shower), try Epsom Salts, bubble bath or shower gel, body scrubs, massage oils and moisturisers, and massage tools such as wooden rollers. Don’t worry if you don’t have one; hands were invented before massage tools!
If you have any aromatherapeutic products, now is the time to use them as the essential oils contained within them have different benefits on your mind and body. For example, lavender is relaxing, rose is anti-ageing, soothing and strengthening, and very good if you have been poorly, and lemon and citrus are uplifting and energising. (Use caution with essential oils if you are pregnant, have sensitive or broken skin, and always ensure that oils are diluted properly and blended with a carrier oil if needed. Follow instructions on the product’s packaging)
For your hair, grab shampoo, conditioner, hair oil and hair masks. When using your facial and haircare products, take a bit of extra time to massage your face and scalp using firm but gentle pressure in circular motions to really ease tension. You could even consider taking a life-affirming book with you to read in the bath – just don’t drop it in the bubbles!
Then, after you have relaxed your muscles in the warm bath, massage your whole body. Try to focus particularly on massaging your feet for an added reflexology-inspired wellbeing boost.
Create and print out your schedule. Take a look at the suggested schedule below. This is useful if you don’t think that you will actually gain the full benefit from the day, or even carry it out at all, without having some sort of a plan. Keep it flexible though, keep it chilled out, and don’t worry too much about sticking to everything rigidly. See it more as a prompt and some gentle suggestions on how best to use your time.
Set some boundaries. Tell others that you won’t be available for a few hours. Turn off the TV. Turn off the phone (or turn off notifications, set it to silent, and put it in another room so you won’t be tempted to use it)
On the Day
Set the intention for your day. Ask yourself: why do I need this day? What are the main issues that I would like to address and work on? Have I been very anxious lately? Had a low mood? Felt insecure? Had lots of stressful demands placed on me at work or in my home life? Whatever you need, set it as your main intention for the day. For example, if you have been feeling a little low lately, your intention could be: I will shift my mindset to focus on joy, energy and gratitude. This will give you a focus and increase clarity and positive intention.
Keep the lights as low as possible, and light some scented candles. Lavender, chamomile or rose are great scents to use.
Put on some relaxing background music. It is said that ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union is scientifically proven to be the most relaxing song to listen to, but you could also find some relaxing, spa-inspired playlists on YouTube.
Sit quietly and sip a herbal tea for half an hour before you begin and just unwind. Be still and embrace the silence. Then listen to nature sounds, either outside your window, or use an app or find a YouTube video.
Taking time regularly to hold a space of blissful and restorative rest for yourself will help you to celebrate YOU and all the amazing things your mind and body does for you, quietly and unnoticed, every second of every day. And when you take some time to plant these seeds of self-worth, and water them regularly with dedication and loving-kindness, you will come to realise that you are worthy of ‘you time’, as you see the benefits of taking a moment out to nurture your self and your sense of inner peace and calm.
SAMPLE AT-HOME D.I.Y SPA & RETREAT DAY
Whatever pocket of time you have available to you is fine, but ideally 4 hours for a half-day retreat, or 7 hours for a full day retreat – adjust times accordingly.
If you have more time, add in some more sessions of meditation or creative pursuits like painting, writing, singing or extra exercise sessions such as yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi. I always like to add in time to read The Bible and pray too.
The following is simply a suggestion, providing structure and offering some ideas to inspire your spa day, but it’s your day so create it your way … Have fun!
SPA & RETREAT DAY PLAN
PREPARE AND EAT BREAKFAST MINDFULLY AND IN SILENCE
LIST THE THINGS YOU HAVE IN YOUR LIFE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR
SET INTENTIONS FOR THE DAY
DO A 5-10 MIN MEDITATION
DO 5-10 MINS POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
HAVE A FACIAL AND APPLY FACE MASK
APPLY HAIR MASK
HAVE A BATH, AND LEAVE FACE AND HAIR MASKS ON AS YOU SOAK
MASSAGE YOURSELF WITH A BODY OIL, THANKING EACH BODY PART AS YOU GO
DO A 30 MIN MEDITATION
PREPARE AND EAT LUNCH AND DRINK A CUP OF HERBAL TEA
LISTEN TO AN INSPIRING PODCAST AS YOU EAT
DO A 20 MIN MEDITATION
READ SOMETHING INSPIRATIONAL
DO YOGA FOR 20 MINS
DO A 10 MIN MEDITATION
COMPLETE 15 MIN WALKING MEDITATION (OUTDOORS, IF POSSIBLE).