In the midst of our fast-paced and demanding lives, it’s crucial to prioritise self-care just as diligently as we would schedule appointments for car services or dental check-ups.
Taking proactive measures and nurturing ourselves can significantly reduce the risk of falling ill and having to deal with the consequences. It involves granting our minds and bodies a well-deserved respite from the daily grind, allowing us to recharge our energy and maintain manageable stress levels.
We do however, often find ourselves unable to carve out time or allocate funds for indulging in a retreat or visiting a day spa. However, fret not! We’ve sought the advice of experts from three esteemed spas in Australia and Thailand who have unveiled a collection of simple yet cost-effective techniques for enjoying spa-like self-care therapies in the comfort of your own home. They will guide you through the necessary steps and tools, enabling you to unwind, let go, and prioritise your wellbeing at your convenience.
Kamalaya’s Foot Soak Ritual
This is a signature treatment at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and co-founder Karina Stewart, Co-Founder says, “In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the feet are a very important part of the body as there are many pressure points located in our feet and meridians starting here are connected to the whole body.
‘’In our Foot Soak Ritual, the warm temperature of the water acts as a conduit to deliver the therapeutic benefits of the Thai herbs more efficiently throughout the body, nourishing it from the ‘roots’ upwards. The herbs also assist in restoring regular sleep-wake cycles, which promotes adequate rest and improves overall wellbeing.
At our retreat, our Foot Soak Ritual ends with a traditional Asian foot massage to relieve headaches, calm the mind and induce a deep and restful sleep.”
Foot Soak Ritual at home
Kamalaya’s ‘DIY’ version enables you to indulge in this whenever you like, to bring you the benefits of relaxation, improved circulation, soothing aches, swelling and heavy legs.
Ideally, allow about 30-60 minutes before going to bed. The ritual takes approximately 20 minutes.
Draw some water in a tub, temperature of between 42 – 45 degrees Celsius, depending on comfort level.
- Salt (Sea or Epsom Salt) minerals serve to aid absorption of the therapeutic agents of herbs.
- Ginger reduces swelling, is anti-inflammatory, improves circulation and detoxifying.
- Lemon acts like an antiseptic, is refreshing in feel and smell.
- A few drops of lavender essential oil promote relaxation, aids sleep, calms emotions and the mind, even anxiety.
Alternatively, you can also use Chamomile (a tea bag will work!), which is great for relaxation.
Soak up above the ankles or even to the knee, if you have a high enough tub, to stimulate nerves, meridians and reflex points in the feet as well as the ones located in the lower legs. As heat penetrates the muscles and nerves, they naturally relax.
Through the warmth, blood vessels expand, improving blood circulation through the entire body and decreasing swelling in the feet. Explained from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the warmth drains the energy down from the head quietening the mind. You will feel how your shoulders drop in relaxation shortly after placing your feet into the warm water.
The benefits of the bath can be enhanced through self-massaging the feet, systematically activating nerve reflexes, thereby stimulating all body organs and tissues to improve overall function and wellbeing whilst still calming the mind.
While a single foot bath is a great way to relax into a wholesome sleep tonight, a series of evening sessions is most beneficial, helping to restore a regular healthy sleep pattern.
Colour therapy has an ancient history with roots in Egyptian, Indian and Chinese healing traditions. For example, the Egyptians utilized sunlight as well as colour for healing. In Ancient Greece, colour garments, oils, plasters, ointments and salves were used to treat disease.
In Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism, chakra means the wheels of energy in the body. The chakras are seven energy centres in the body that can become imbalanced, leading to symptoms such as low energy and negative feelings. Specific colours are related to the various chakras. In this way colour therapy can help to awaken, unblock or re-balance the energy centres, using the seven colours of the light spectrum to stimulate our body’s own healing process.
For example, if you are feeling insecure, lacking motivation, feeling fear or unconfident, you may want to look at working on your root chakra, which is the foundation of the body and related to our sense of security and survival. The colour associated with the root chakra is red, and so you can focus on drawing energy from that colour for healing so that you feel calmer and more centred.
If you don’t feel like chakras is your thing, it could be as simple as using a colour that feels therapeutic to you. For example, if green is calming to you, you can choose to focus on this colour.
There are many ways that colour therapy can be applied. Some infra-red saunas are incorporating this so that guests can lay in the light of their chosen colour in the sauna for the therapeutic benefits.
Simply looking at or meditating on a colour is another way. If you like working with crystals, choose the corresponding-coloured crystal and hold it during meditation or display it in your room.
Colour therapy at home
Using a colour changing diffuser
Aurora Spa & Bathhouse founder Lyndall Mitchell recommends diffusers which change colour, replicating the chakra colour therapy.
Use Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils: Mitchell explains that diffusing essential oils at home helps to rebalance your chakras. ASPAR relax essential oil is a blend of lavender, may chang and sweet orange to ease anxiety, calm the mind and relax the body to help you drift away into a restful night’s sleep.
Aromatherapy shower: Sprinkle a few drops of the oils on your shower floor or add to your bath and instantly ease tensions away in your body and mind. Or, add to your body cream for an aromatic and calming skin treatment.
Deep breathing with essential oils: Taking deep breaths with intention is very effective for restoring your chakras to their natural and harmonious state, says Mitchell. “As you inhale, direct your energy to the chakra. As you exhale, allow awareness to relax into it.”
To help amplify your breathing practice, apply the ASPAR Rosemary & Clove Thermal Balm to your chest, neck and shoulders.
Developed for use in Aurora’s deep tissue massage treatments, Mitchell explains, “This naturally warming thermal balm eases tension mind and to alleviate joint and muscle pain, headaches, anxiety plus cold and flu symptoms. Clove and camphor boosts circulation and acts as an anti-inflammatory and peppermint has a mild sedative effect and calms the senses, perfect for travel.”
SPA TIP: Keep one at your desk to ease tension in the neck and shoulders. Apply as a chest rub before bedtime and ease into a restful night’s sleep as the essential oils ease away tensions of the day with every breath.
Our lymphatic system is a part of our immune system and so plays an important role for our immune function. It also acts like our body’s sewerage system, as it filters and removes extra fluid (lymph) and waste from the body.
Our lymphatic system is made up of many lymph nodes that are connected by lymph vessels. Lymph vessels collect excess fluid, moves it to the lymph nodes, where white blood cells can attack and kill bacteria, viruses or other harmful pathogens, before lymph vessels bring the fluid back into the bloodstream.
Our lymph system doesn’t have a pump to move fluid like the heart pumps blood. Instead, it depends on muscle contractions to move it. Without our lymph system, our body would swell with fluid and waste, including viruses and bacteria. Usually, what drives lymphatic movement are movement and breathing.
Jo Hand, Nutritionist & Kinesiologist at the Great Ocean Road Resort says, “Our lymphatic systems are like fish tanks. If left unattended and not moving, they become stagnant, which can lead to all sorts of disease in the body.”
Lymphatic stimulation massage, can help move lymph fluid, stimulating contractions of lymphatic vessels, and speed up lymph circulation. In lymphatic massage, it is not about working with the muscles, but with the movement of lymph fluid.
Our lymph nodes are bean-shaped organs that are found all over the body. Large groups or chains of lymph nodes can be found in the neck, under the arms and in the groin. This is where we can massage to stimulate lymph fluid movement.
Lymphatic support at home
While you will get the best results from a professional who specialises in lymphatic massage, Jo Hand offers us instructions on how to perform a self-lymphatic stimulation massage that you can do daily at home.
Lymphatic massage only requires very light pressure because the lymphatic system is close to the surface of the skin. If you can feel your muscles, you may be rubbing too deeply. It also has a specific sequence to ensure the blocked lymph areas are cleared and the lymph is being moved in the right direction.
Hand says that you should always start with the area just above the collarbone. In the lymphatic system, lymph fluid empties into the bloodstream and the collarbone is where everything collects as it’s the lowest pressure point. This is where we should start moving fluid away from.
For each point, rub in circular motions 10 times and then gently tap for 10 times. Do this on each side of the body for each of the points below in the following order:
- Rub above and below the collar bone, then tap but don’t cause pain
- Side of neck, below earlobe
- The pectoral area, where the shoulder joint meets the chest
- Abdomen: One hand flat on belly button, one hand above it, rub up and down, then tap the abs with both hands. Then put one hand on top of the other and rub the belly.
- The crease of the groin
- Behind the crease of the knees. Rub above and below the creases.
There is no equipment required, and this can be done anywhere, anytime, sitting down while watching TV, or lying down. You can treat it as a relaxing, meditative experience.
Drinking plenty of water will also help with the stimulation of the lymphatic system.
Movement including gentle walking are simple ways to move your lymphatic system.
*Contraindications – Cancer & going through treatment
Bathing in minerals
If you cannot make it to Aurora Spa Bathhouse’s magnesium mineral pools to soak away your stresses, you can also bathe in mineral goodness at home by drawing your own bath of mineral salts, other herbs and oils to receive the healing benefits, and enjoy the relaxing, calming aromas. Bath salts are an easy and inexpensive way to relieve stress and aches and pains at home. Choose Epsom made from magnesium sulfate or sea salt. All you need to do is throw in a scoop into your running bathtub and they can easily dissolve in your warm bath water for you to sink into the benefits.
Lavender and frankincense are examples of great calming, soothing scents and properties to add to the bath. Herbs you could add include gotu kola a medicinal herb known to support mental function and for healing the skin, strengthening and calming the nerves. Chamomile is also very calming for both the skin and mind.
If you happen to make it to Aurora Spa, make sure you don’t leave without visiting their bath salt apothecary where you can choose from a range of bath salts and herbs to make up your own concoction in a jar to take home to make your own home bathing spa.
In the shower
If you’re not a bath kind of person or you don’t have a bath, what you can do in the shower is create a shower scrub with the same ingredients so that you can inhale all the goodness while your skin will reap the calming and exfoliating benefits of glowing skin.
This recipe is from Aurora Spa for a shower scrub. Mix these ingredients in a bowl, creating a thick paste:
- 1 cup of sea salt or epsom salt
- 1/3 cup of almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of Vitamin E oil
- Essential oils of your choice, such as lavender, chamomile, frankincense or the ASPAR relax essential oil
Apply the scrub to your body using your hands.
Rinse the scrub from your body.
Store the remaining shower scrub in an airtight container to use for next time.
These are just a few treatments you can easily give yourself at home, demonstrating a little downtime for self-love. It’s not a treat, it’s necessary to maintain good holistic health.
Be sure to share your opinion of the treatments you’ve had.
Tracey Cheung is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, whose work has been featured in publications such as The Guardian, Women’s Health, Body and Soul, and Retail Pharmacy magazines. She loves to share ideas, places and the latest news and rituals that can help improve health and wellbeing.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your physical or mental health, seek immediate medical attention.