Today’s post is a little different, as it’s not a cooking recipe, but a detox and relaxation recipe. It’s a ritual that I’ve recently discovered, and truly believe it’s the best I can do to treat myself and feel a little bit like a queen. While I would love to be able to go to a spa once a week, since it’s impossible both money-wise and time-wise, with this ritual I can bring the spa to my home. Generally, my illness made me think about how much time and care I devote on myself, and I decided to consciously increase those small everyday acts that nourish my body and soul. Until now I’ve been mainly focused on my diet and physical health. But as we all know, health is a multidimensional concept, and you can’t have physical wellbeing without mental wellbeing…therefore I promised myself that I’ll start to consciously devote some time in the day just for relaxation.
Relaxation isn’t just meditation and yoga, although those definitely help too, but it’s also whatever pleases our soul; it could be a walk in nature with our dog, cooking, gardening, whatever connects us to our inner being and makes us take more notice of our thoughts, sensations, emotions. And I refuse to accept TV as a form of relaxation, as it turns our focus to that stupid box instead of ourselves. TV is a distraction, not introspection.
In this document now, I’m writing this post to share with you my own relaxation ritual, which improves not only my mental but also my physical health, and ever since I started it, the quality of my life has improved, and I expect that within this week, there’ll be a moment that I’ll fill up my bathtub again.
So, my ritual is as follows;
- 5 minutes of dry brushing
- 40 minutes bath with magnesium salts and lavender oil.
Dry brushing: It’s the brushing of the body with a soft brush without water before taking a bath. This is how I always start my day, and I always brush before my morning shower. Why should you do this?
- It activates the body’s lymph node system and helps in the body’s detox: The lymph system is a system of vessels which gather toxins away from the body, also known as all of the body’s wastes that come from cellular functions, and toxic substances of drugs which are filtered and broken down in the liver. In contrast to the cardiovascular system, which moves via heart contractions, the lymph system is only dependant on gravity, and therefore needs a little more help to work to the max, especially with all of the toxins it has to deal with on an everyday basis. By activating your lymph system through brushing, massage or by jumping on a trampoline, you help the body detox, thus decreasing risks of inflammation which lead to chronic illnesses.
- Exfoliation: Dry brushing removes dead skin cells (which seem like dust particles when you’re brushing), which makes for the best and cheapest type of exfoliation that leaves your skin feeling as soft as a baby’s. Exfoliation is important not only for cosmetic reasons, but for your health as well; our skin is the biggest organ of our body, and it’s a basic component of toxin removal. When it’s blocked by dead skin cells, our body loses an important detoxing asset. With exfoliation, you save money and toxic substances found in peeling products and commercial hydration creams, and believe me with all of these care products is women use in the day, and with the amount of toxic substances we ingest through those products, saving up on these products is good not only for our pockets but also for our health. Ever since I started dry brushing, I completely stopped using body lotions!
It increases blood circulation and rejuvenates. This is why this is one of my favourite morning habits, and it helps my body wake up and give me energy. This is also why most experts suggest dry brushing be done in the morning rather than night.
Some other benefits of frequent dry brushing: it aids with digestion, decreases water retention, helps prevent phlebitis, corrects the appearance of cellulite and is said to help decrease cellulite scars, as exfoliation leads to the reconstruction of the epidermis.
I realise that all of these are like music to most women’s ears, but I must warn you; don’t expect any miracles. Dry brushing is just a small pebble in our physical health, wherein the bigger stones of wellbeing and beauty are healthy eating and exercise.
The only thing you’ll need to buy is a body brush (Swedish type) if you don’t have any at home already. It could be one of those brushes with long handles to help you reach your back, although I personally prefer the round brushes which are easier to grip. As for the brush hairs, they should be a little hard to be able to exfoliate, but not that hard that they scratch the skin.
As soon as you get the right brush, the rest is easy; we start brushing in circular motions, from the legs up, reaching up to the heart. In the mornings I brush for about 3-5 minutes, whilst I devote a little more time when I do my rituals’ bath.
After brushing, I like to apply a body oil, mainly because the aroma is a part of my ritual, and because the skin is already soft. My favourite body oil this season is Inner Strength from Aromatherapy Associates, (which is made from natural sage, cardamom and meadow oils), and it’s honestly the most beautiful scent I’ve ever smelled, and every time I apply it, I not only smell great, but the whole house does too. The ingredients in this oil are suggested for giving you strength, peace and positivity, and I can definitely say I feel all of these every time I exit the bath. It smells so good that I even use it as a perfume, a few drops behind my ears, at the neck and wrist, especially when I feel fatigued and need a pick-me-up.
The magnesium salt bath (Epsom salts), is another simple way to relax, but also to improve your health, through its’ unique detoxing abilities.
Epsom salts are salt beads originating form the salted springs found in the Epsom area in Surrey, England. Their uniqueness guarantees that it’s a pure conjunction of magnesium and sulphur that comes directly from nature. These two trace elements have strong health properties, by maximising the body’s detoxing abilities. Anyone that likes gardening might know that these are the same salts we use to make our plants grow faster.
More specifically, magnesium and sulphur are absorbed through the skin and enter the blood circulation. Our skin is a very porous membrane, which allows substances to both enter the body, and for toxins and waste to be expelled from it on the daily. By using something as strong as Epsom salts in water in a bathtub, a double osmosis procedure occurs, wherein toxins are removed from the body, whilst magnesium and sulphur enter it.
Thus, one of the biggest Epsom bath salt benefits, is that they re-fill the body’s magnesium storages, without any dietary intervention, and all of us have benefits to gain from a little more magnesium in our body. Magnesium helps with over 325 enzymatic procedures in the body, decreases inflammation, and improves blood flow and cellular oxygenation. Undoubtedly though, magnesium’s most important function, is muscle relaxation. This is why magnesium salts are indicated for relaxation after training or after a tiring day, and an iced magnesium salt bath is the best for relaxation for marathon runners. For the very same reason, it’s also indicated to people suffering from insomnia, and I promise you, taking an Epsom salts bath before bed, will relax you so much that you’ll sleep tight in no-time. Sulphuric substances are also necessary structural substances for the health of joints, skin, and nervous tissue. Epsom salt baths restock the body’s sulphur and magnesium stocks. The combination therefore these two ingredients, helps to remove toxins from the body, and to form new protein compounds in the brain and joint tissues.
Frequent use of Epsom salts has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of many health issues, from limb fungi infections and gout, to twisting of ankles, bruising, muscle cramps, and intense muscle tears. They also aid in bettering blood circulation, and decrease inflammation, thus protecting the elasticity of arteries. Healthy arteries mean a decreased risk of thrombus formation, atherosclerotic plaque formation, and generally of formation of cardiovascular diseases. Both magnesium and sulphur improve the body’s ability to produce and use insulin. Therefore, Epsom salts can help regulate sugar levels in the blood, decreasing the risk of diabetes, and improving our energy levels throughout the day. Magnesium can also help with constipation. Lastly, Epsom salts are indicated for anyone suffering from chronic pain or chronic illnesses.
Epsom salt baths are contraindicated in pregnant women, in people with severe dehydration or open wounds or burns in the body, and to those suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
To make an Epsom salt bath: Be prepared to dedicate at least 40 minutes to your bath, as you need about 20 minutes to remove toxins from the body, and another 20 for the salts to enter your body. I personally prefer to fill the bathtub with warm water, and then add about a handful of Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oils, as it helps me relax more. I recently noticed that Apivita has produced a new rose oil which is on my list, as it sounds ideal for my bath. Just make sure to be cautious and choose an organic, good quality natural oil, since you don’t want your body to ingest toxins and chemicals. If you don’t feel like taking a bath, you can fill a big bowl with water and salts, and only dip in your legs. Also, beware not to add any soaps in your bath, as it might affect the work of the trace elements and their detoxing abilities. I try to take such baths about 3-4 times a week, even if they don’t all last for 40 minutes. I do however try to take at least one 40 minute bath, so I can fully take in the benefits of the salts.
As for the dry brushing, it’s now my go-to tactic every morning before a shower, and it’s definitely something I do when I take my relaxing bath.