"Spa"ntaneous moments

How to relax and unwind when money (and time) might be tight!

Everyone needs a little “me” time now and then. You know, those moments when you think to yourself “I worked hard today, I could use a break!” or “My brain hurts, time to decompress!”

Now, you could head to the salon, or massage therapy, or the spa, but holy smokes have you seen what some of these places charge?!! Clearly, this is a moment for combining creativity with a bit of frugality, and … yogurt. (More on that later). For now, here’s what you need to know. A lot of those fancy treatments people pay big bucks for can be done in the comfort of your home, with “ingredients” you can find around the house or in the produce aisle. We’ve taken the time to do a little research and create a short list. All that’s missing is a window of opportunity and … you.

Don’t forget the atmosphere: Let’s get this started right. No amount of self-pampering is going to feel good if you’re getting interrupted by calls, texts, kids, or commitments. So, pick a time and a place where you can spend 15, 30, or 60 minutes. All. By. Yourself. Then make your surroundings as peaceful and soothing as possible. Put some flowers out. Maybe light a few candles. Play some soft music. Stare out the window or at the sky. Whatever makes you feel truly relaxed, do that.

Instant massaging: Usually getting a massage requires booking an appointment (well in advance) at an expensive studio or begging a really nice friend/family member to “help get that knot out.” But what if you don’t have the money or time or willing participant at your disposal? Good news! There are a TON of self-massage techniques that involve nothing more than your hands and/or a tennis ball or foam roller. And Googling “self-massage techniques” brings up plenty more ways to work out the kinks all by yourself!

(A little) skin in the game: These days there’s all kinds of skin treatments – everything from chemical peels to exfoliating scrubs to lasers to microdermabrasion to masks and beyond. But what if you could give your face, arms, hands, feet, etc. a little TLC with something as simple as yogurt? Or an egg? Or for full on luxury … an avocado! Check out this great article from The Penny Hoarder to get the skinny on budget-friendly skin nourishment.

File under “Nailed it”: A well-cared-for set of finger(or toe)nails can make your look – or break your bank account, depending on how often you’re hitting the salon. Skip the trip (and the tip), settle into your comfiest chair, and hoist a bottle of your favorite polish. For the cost of a mani/pedi you can splurge a little on the raw materials and have plenty left over for another coat or two down the road. Follow these simple steps from Better Homes & Gardens then go paint the town!

To top it all off: Whether you’ve got flowing locks or little more than scalp up there, every now and again it’s good to think ahead and give your noggin some love. This piece from website WideOpenEats.com explains how to wash, condition and repair damaged hair, add some shine, cleanse and moisturize the scalp, and/or get rid of excess oils – all with, you guessed it, food! Note: please do not attempt to eat your hair after treatment.

Soak it up: This one’s easy … just add water! Maybe you don’t have the space or finances for a hot tub, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your “ahhhhhhhhh!” on in a hot (but not too hot) bath. Run the water, close the door, turn out the lights, add some aromatic candles or a diffuser. You feel better already don’t you? Note: Patients should check with their doctor to determine safe bathing techniques for their type of therapy and/or access.

All for (almost) nothing: Looking to get really relaxed? AARP tells you the best way to check off nearly every item on our list in one revitalizing evening. What are you waiting for?

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