You may think of a spa day as extravagant or indulgent. But it is self-health care. Whether it’s a day spa for professional pampering or an at-home DIY experience, spas are a great investment in good health.

Even in the best of times, life is stressful. The emotional, physical, and social demands most of us face daily can take a heavy toll on our minds and bodies. A day of spa treatments could be just the thing to restore a fading healthy glow, and perhaps put a little pep in your step. Spa treatments including therapeutic massage, saunas and aromatherapy have been known to lift spirits and help declutter the mind. 

Treating yourself to a spa need not dent your budget. If you are short on money or prefer the privacy of your home, consider giving yourself at-home spa treatments— you create the ambience and collect the bath products needed to create a rejuvenating spa at home. 

In preparation, invest in a 100 % cotton robe, thick towels and comfy slippers. Gather bath sponges, natural loofas, and body scrubbers for exfoliation of arms, legs and back. Splurge on fine milled soaps and bath powders, essential oils and as many scented candles as you can afford, to fill the air with aromatherapy, purported to relieve stress, encourage relaxation and induce sleepiness. Don’t forget music, and the beverage of your choice, served in a bathroom safe, shatter-proof glass.

Mineral, fresh or tap water is essential to the spa experience. Water is commonplace yet mysterious in its powers to heal. Ideally, the at-home spa will include soaking in a tub. Researchers refer to therapeutic bathing as a form of hydrotherapy. “The use of water as a healing medium dates back many centuries, it has many physiologic effects. These effects are seen in the cardiopulmonary, circulatory, autonomic, and renal systems” said David Soto-Quijano, MD, Associate Professor Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University Central Del Caribe School of Medicine. 

“The primary therapeutic effects of hydrotherapy are the promotion of muscle relaxation with decreased muscle spasm and the increased ease of joint motion. Additionally, decreased pain sensitivity, reduced gravitational forces, increased circulation, increased muscular strength, and improved balance can be helpful in the rehabilitation of patients with chronic pain says,” says Dr. Soto-Quijano.

Women in this writer’s family had no medical training, but they knew the benefits of adding Epsom salt to their bath water. “An Epsom salt bath is one of the easiest and most ideal ways to enjoy its health benefits. The sulfate in Epsom salt helps with nutrient absorption, flushes toxins, and helps ease migraine headaches, writes chiropractor, Michael Kessler, DC., a “Doctors Health Press” contributor.

Dr. Kessler believes taking an Epsom salt bath should not be limited to spa days. Touting some very desirable benefits, he writes “bathing in Epsom salt at least three times a week will help you look better, feel better, and provide you with an extra boost of energy.”

To make the spa day a head-to-toe experience, give yourself a steam facial. It’s a pleasant, easy way to open pores, and it can leave your face feeling refreshed. Only three things are needed: a bowl of steaming hot water, a few drops of rose oil (or a light essential oil of your choice) and a medium-sized towel. Add a few drops of oil to the bowl of boiling water, drape the towel over your head, then lean over with your face directly above the bowl to capture the steam as it rises to your covered head.  

A foot massage can bring measurable health improvements to your home spa regimen. In their newsletter, Harvard Medical School touts the therapeutic benefits: “foot massage improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension and often relieves pain.” The newsletter offers simple instructions on how to give yourself a foot massage. It is a straightforward treatment with such desirable benefits, you may want to increase the frequency of foot massage beyond spa days. Begin by washing and drying your feet, then:

Sit in a comfortable chair. Bend your left leg and rest your left foot gently on your right thigh.

Pour some skin lotion or oil into your hand. Rub it gently into your foot and massage your whole foot including the toes, arch, and heel.

Do a deeper massage. Press the knuckles of your right hand into your left foot. Knead your foot as you would bread. Or work the skin and muscles by holding a foot with both hands and pressing your thumbs into the skin. Using your hands, gently pull the toes back and forth or apart. This stretches the muscles underneath. 

Repeat on the other foot.

Professional pampering at a day spa is of course a real treat. But if time, money or convenience doesn’t permit, you can gain some of the same health benefits from your at-home spa treatments   

Jayne Hopson
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