(CNN) – Do you remember hotel spas with their serene surroundings, lavish amenities and pampering treatments? How could a luxurious, relaxing experience escape the stress of everyday life?
Given that most luxury hotels and spas around the world are closed or strictly operated, such a retreat may be prohibited during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive someone’s relaxing experience – at least somewhat – at home. And the price for this type of self-care is significantly reduced.
“Bringing many elements of a fancy spa into your home is easy and inexpensive,” says Snow Shimazu, licensed massage therapist, certified yoga and meditation instructor, and healer at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown.
“This is a time when many of us are stressed, anxious and uncertain. So we need the calming effects that a spa can offer more than ever.”
Carve out a sacred space
Create a clean, calming area for relaxation, meditation, and yoga.
Photo illustration / Thinkstock
Jeremy McCarthy, the group leader for spa and wellness at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, suggests designating a room or corner in your home as a place of well-being.
Make sure the area is clean, clear and free of distractions.
“It could be your bathroom or a corner of your family room or bedroom, but like a spa, it should be a welcoming space where you can sit and drink tea, meditate, or curl up with a good book,” he says. A plush chair, an oversized pillow and even a hammock will work for you to sit on.
Stimulate your senses
Something as simple as lighting scented candles can help you move into another mental place.
Shimazu says your home spa can be much more portable with touches that appeal to the senses.
For example, the room can have a potted plant, a flower vase, or a favorite work of art. Lighting a scented candle or burning incense is another idea and adds an element of aromatherapy.
Shimazu personally loves to dilute a few drops of an essential oil in water, which she soaks up on a cloth and uses to wipe the floor, doorknobs and shelves.
“I clean the room and make it smell good at the same time,” she says.
Holding crystals is also a luxury hotel spa standard that stimulates your sense of touch while also having a relaxing effect.
And don’t forget the background music – or the lack of it.
“Since we stay home a lot more than usual, we stream more content than usual, and it’s okay to be in complete silence to get a break from anything on the outside,” says McCarthy.
When you choose to listen to music, forget about any notion that it must be the stereotypical jingling, soothing rhythms you normally hear in spas. McCarthy says anything is possible from heavy metal to Enya and Beethoven, whatever appeals to you.
Invest in the right amenities
Take off your clothes and put on a comfortable robe.
Your home may not have a rainforest shower, hot and cold plunge pools, and other features that make hotel spas stand out, but a few inexpensive accessories go a long way in reproducing their waste.
“Wearing it is like having a reflexology treatment,” she says. “Each point is attached to an organ or gland, so the slippers have a restorative effect.”
A bathrobe or comfy pajamas to wear at home during your spa vacation are also handy, and Shimazu recommends an eye pillow or towel that will work as one.
“Put a few drops of an essential oil in the microwave for 30 seconds and place them over your eyes while you sit back or lie down,” she says. “All of your tension will go away.”
Get a feel for rituals
Most spas don’t immediately bump you into a dark massage room and urge you to relax, says McCarthy. You create a ritual that will help you leave the outside world behind and put yourself in a deeper state of relaxation: you go into a changing room, put on a bathrobe and slippers, try heat and water therapies and relax in the Tea lounge.
“At home, you can create your own relaxation ritual that will bring you into this room,” says McCarthy.
A long, hot bath can do wonders for you.
Perhaps it means taking a hot bath with soothing aromatic oils, sipping herbal tea, and reading something thoughtful or inspirational, whether it’s a poem, book, or quote. Under no circumstances should you read the news or turn off your phone or other technical devices.
McCarthy says spas are one of the last places in modern society where we are disconnected from technology, and this break is an integral part of the spa experience.
Massage the face, hands and feet
Alexandra Soveral, a London-based holistic skin specialist whose treatments are offered at Four Seasons hotels in downtown New York and Boston, says your face is storing the emotional and physical stress that many of us currently experience due to the coronavirus pandemic is reinforced.
“Your face needs some help to look and feel the healthiest of it, and that help is self-massage,” she says.
It’s not difficult to do, says Soveral, but you should never massage dry skin. Use oil even if you have an oily complexion. You can wash it off afterwards.
Make circular movements up and out towards the extremities of the face and neck. This movement draws the toxins out of your skin. Make sure you use moderate to strong pressure.
“If it’s too light, you won’t get rid of the toxins and the massage won’t be as effective,” says Soveral.
Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder and CEO of the nail polish brand and salon Olive & June in Los Angeles, recommends a self-massage with a gentle scrub.
You can even make one at home by mixing a little sugar with coconut or olive oil. “Exfoliating will remove dry skin and make your hands and feet smooth and healthy,” she says.
Stretch your body
Granted, giving yourself a satisfactory body massage like a professional therapist can give you is difficult, but you can give yourself a great stretching session to reap some of the same benefits as massage.
“A stretch of just a few minutes can help with digestion, muscle tension, and your emotional state,” says Shimazu.
You can find dozens of stretching routines online or watch our stretching video with Shimazu as a guide. Her three key sections are below:
Kneel on a blanket and place your hands on your lower back with your fingertips pointing down. Move your elbows closer together. Inhale, move your chest forward, keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, straighten your spine and look up diagonally. Exhale, return your spine to its natural position. This stretch improves digestion and relieves negative thoughts in your head.
Sit with the soles of your feet together, knees apart. Cross your fingers in front of your chest. Push your palms forward. Lean forward. As a variation, sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed, hug each other, and lean forward. This stretch helps relieve anxiety.
Sit with your legs in front of you. Flex your ankles and point your toes toward the sky. Exhale, hang off your hips, and bend forward. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees. This stretch helps rejuvenate your energy levels.
It is important that we take some quiet time more than ever. And if all else fails, you can always take a nap.
Shivani Vora is a New York based writer who travels as often as possible, whether it’s a walking safari in Tanzania, a mother-daughter trip with her 10-year-old in Istanbul or surfing in northern Portugal.
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