Buying gifts for all 23 of your nieces and nephews, making small talk at holiday parties, and clapping through countless school concerts leaves little time for pampering, let alone an actual trip to a spa. Too bad, because this is the time of year you need it most. Thats why we polled experts across the country and came up with easy ways to squeeze spalike touches into your day.
After the alarm goes off
Ease your body into alert mode with this stretch from New York City–based yoga expert Edward Vilga. Lying in bed on your back, bring your knees to your chest and let them fall to the left while you stretch your arms open in a T shape. Take a few deep breaths. Bring your knees to your chest and, as you exhale, let them fall to the right side. Finish by stretching your arms and legs straight along the mattress.
In the shower
For a quick aromatherapy buzz, drizzle a few drops of an energizing essential oilÂthink peppermint, lemongrass, or citrusÂonto your loofah, pouf, or washcloth, suggests Tara Oolie, owner of the Just Calm Down spa in New York City.
Even if your morning meal comes in a paper bag “adding some fragrant, beautiful things can awaken your senses,” says Erika Bloom of Erika Bloom Pilates Plus in New York City. Toss berries in your yogurt, eat a few slices of grapefruit with your muffin, or place a sprig of fresh mint on your plate with your bagel.
Next Page: 10:30 a.m.: Mid-morning break
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Try this meditation exercise: Turn a bottle of honey upside down and concentrate on the slowly rising bubble as it moves from the bottom of the jar to the top (its got the same mind-mellowing effect as a lava lamp). “Youll be amazed how you can get lost watching it,” says Tom Gesimondo, co-owner of True Pilates in New York City.
At your computer
Practice this reflexology technique: Using your thumb and index finger, start below the knuckle and gently pull up on each finger. “This helps release tension after a morning at the keyboard,” says Deedee Carlson, president of the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology.
In line at the store
Stop stewing about the snail-paced cashier. Use this time to catch your
breath and recharge. Focus on one spot (not the rack of tabloids), inhale for three counts, exhale for three; inhale and exhale longer and longer with each breath. “Deep breathing helps get oxygen into your body. The result is instant energy,” says Angelina Umansky, owner
of San Franciscos Spa Radiance.
In the car
Shut off the soundtrack to High School Musical 2 and pop in some Mozart (try Music for the Mozart Effect, Volume 1, Strengthen the Mind; $13.99 at Amazon.com). “Studies show listening to music you find relaxing reduces stress and elevates feelings of calmness and relaxation,” says Renee Nasajon, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Miami.
Drizzling olive oil on a salad? Its one of the best natural moisturizers, so put a few drops on your hands and cuticles, then massage
it in, suggest the experts at Devachan Salon and Departure Lounge in New York City.
Keep a small, plastic water bottle in the freezer and roll your feet on it while you do homework with the kids, pay bills, or check e-mail. “Youll massage reflexology points, and the cold can help soothe end-of-day swollen feet,” Tara Oolie says.
Combine hot water, fresh lime juice, honey, and freshly grated ginger into a mug and sip. This antibacterial, immunity-boosting brew can help cure the winter blahs, say the experts at Allegria Spa at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Colorado. Then sit back and think of all the positive things that happened that day, which is bound to make you feel calmer and more at peace.