Spa trips renew body and mind—but they can also drain a bank account. The good news: You can create a wellness retreat in your own home by focusing on food, mindfulness, relaxation and exercise. Experts from four spas explain how:
Eat Tasty, Good-For-You Food
The first step to adopting a spa lifestyle at home? Maintaining a well-equipped kitchen, free from processed treats. “Restock your cabinets and fridge with a few healthy staples, and it’s easy to whip up a nutritious, healthy spa-style meal,” says Boston-based nutritionist Tricia Silverman, former director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. Some tips:
Buy the right equipment.A spiralizer can turn vegetables like carrots and zucchini into slender strands to give an ordinary salad an elegant touch. Also invest in a quality blender to incorporate veggie or fruit smoothies into your diet.
Add "wow" to your water. Fill a carafe with water and get creative with infusions. Slice lemons or limes or opt for cucumbers or watermelon. “Taking your water up a notch gives it a true spa feeling,” Silverman says.
Trade chips for chickpeas. Adieu, potato chips and fatty condiments. Silverman urges clients to roast chickpeas—or buy them from her favorite, The Good Bean. "Chickpeas contain protein and fiber, lacking in many processed snacks, and they contain folic acid and other micronutrients that contribute to optimal health," Silverman says. She washes as many as desired, pats dry, mixes lightly with canola oil, and bakes for 40 minutes or until crunchy. Then she adds a dash of cayenne pepper or garlic powder for a kick.
Mix up your snacks. Veggies like carrots and celery are easy snacks, too. But instead of gloppy veggie dips, opt for organic hummus or nut butters, like almond or cashew, sprinkled with cinnamon for a kick. Another possibility: Make trail mix with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried fruits (Silverman likes Turkish apricots or baby bananas), then mix in healthy cheeses like sheep’s milk feta. One more simple snack that packs a big punch? Bing cherries. “Their anti-inflammatory compounds may play a role in treating arthritis and gout,” she says.
Pick sides that boost longevity. At dinner, eschew white rice or potatoes for baked sweet potatoes and funky whole grains like quinoa, millet or amaranth. “There’s a whole world of grains that many of us haven’t tried,” says Silverman. Also load up on legumes, which several studies have linked to longevity, including oft-cited research published by the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Pair soybeans or black beans with brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
Turn off the tube. “Take time to really enjoy your food and eat it mindfully, not in front of the TV,” Silverman says. When we eat deliberately, we’re more likely to consume reasonable portions—and savor the meal.
“We complain about not having enough time, but we need to make ourselves the priority.”
Put the Ommm in Home
It’s a challenge to be mindful when our homes are rife with distractions, from electronics to barking dogs. No need for an HGTV-style makeover: Cecilia Hercik, spa director at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, encourages minimalism to inspire peace and suggests focusing on a few corners of the house. Some tips:
Paint one wall. Focus on an accent wall visible when you walk in the door. Hercik recommends calming blues or greens that “bring the outside in,” she says. Place flowers or a plant on a table to harness those natural elements.
Create a serenity spot. Carve out one corner—in your home office, in your bedroom—devoted to mindfulness. Hercik likes a “vignette” approach: Set aside an area to relax that contains only personally meaningful items, such as family photos, rocks painted with inspirational sayings or a bowl of shells collected from a favorite beach. Add in a comfy chair, a well-loved blanket and a book you can’t wait to read.
Banish bedroom electronics. Replace your TV’s glare with soft music for nocturnal stillness—Hercik likes relaxing Eastern or flute music—or sleep next to an open window so you can hear natural sounds like wind or birds.
Stock up on scents. A few sensory touches can transform your home into a sanctuary, says Sheryl McCormick, spa director at The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. McCormick likes uplifting eucalyptus sprays for morning showers—spritz right into your tub. Then mist your pillow with lavender for a soothing night’s sleep. Regardless, the aroma should create happiness and serenity. “Your smelling sense has the capacity to trigger good memories,” she says.
Candles are also essential, says Miraval’s Hercik. Her favorite site for scents is Red Flower, which she likes thanks to its extensive, organic, vegan line of “spa at home” products like candles, mists and playlists that inspire detoxification and relaxation. Another favorite: whimsically shaped pure beeswax candles from Greentree Home Candle. Unlike other types of candles, pure beeswax is nontoxic and nonpolluting. In fact, beeswax actually gives off negative ions, which helps cleanse the surrounding air of dust and dirt.
Treat yourself to textures.Invest in plush robes and towels, smooth bed linens and soft eye pillows. Pro tip: UGG—known for their ultra-cozy boots—also make blankets and robes. “They’re ridiculously comfortable,” says McCormick. Order monogrammed versions from L.L. Bean or just snap up a few at Target. But brand matters less than comfort: Choose whatever makes you most cozy.
Improve your lighting.The right lighting can transform a room’s mood. Consider dimmer switches for your relaxation spaces or replace bright overhead lights with softer lamps. Lastly, consider a professional window-washing treatment. Scrubbing your glass will cast your home in a whole new (natural) light.
Give Yourself a Mood Makeover
You don’t need a spa sauna or a facial to feel great. Little boosts, like stretching in the morning or propping your feet on a pillow to get blood flowing while watching Netflix, make a big difference. “We complain about not having enough time,” says Julie Haber, who runs a “creating sacred space” workshop at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, “but we need to make ourselves the priority.” Here’s how:
Say no to social media. Raise your hand if your personal time involves mindlessly scrolling Facebook. Before logging on, ask yourself why. “I like to ask myself before getting on social media, ‘Is there something better I could be doing? Do I genuinely want to be here?,” says Haber. It’s an amazing sharing tool, but make sure you’re posting for a purpose, not just frittering precious time on people’s feeds.
Establish a morning mission. Set a motto for the day and revisit it at night—whether it’s greater patience with your partner, slowing down to enjoy lunch or taking a deep breath before a big meeting. “Just breathe and tune in to how you feel on an emotional and mental level,” Haber says.
Schedule 10 minutes of “me” time.Haber recommends devoting at least five minutes in the morning and five at night to your body—whether it’s stretching, dancing in your living room or walking around the block. “Some people are good at self-care and some aren’t: Know which you are and make an action plan,” she advises. Use an alarm to remind yourself when it’s time to detach or enlist a buddy for motivation. If someone is relying on you to join them for a stroll, you’re far less likely to back out.