The Art of Preparing a Bath

Most people know taking a bath can be relaxing – you close the door, are by yourself, and you can choose the ambiance you prefer – music, scents, lights, etc. However, you can begin the relaxation process while drawing the bath – set the perfect backdrop and enjoy the process of doing so.

Take a few moments to plan the perfectly relaxing bath before you jump in the tub. Allow your mind to focus on you, what you like and then set yourself up to do just that.

Try this – take a deep breath, close your eyes and think of the perfect bath. How deep is the water? How dim are the lights? Is there music? Then, make it happen and enjoy the process. While all baths should consider lights, music, reading material, bubbles or not, here are some ideas for various types of baths:

Relaxation – Lavender has soothing and calming properties and has been proven to help alleviate anxiety and enhance sleep. Salts, oils, or bubble bath can be used in the tub. Combine that with a cup of lavender tea and a lavender eye compress and stress relief is assured.

Muscle Stress Relief – Good, old fashioned Epsom Salts can be combined with Juniper Berry for muscle pain or Arnica oil to reduce inflammation which can greatly reduce discomfort. The brand Kneipp makes some excellent bath blends.

Relief from Cold and Sinus Symptom – Eucalyptus bath salts or oil can bring tremendous relief to that stuffy and achy head.

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Detoxification – Mustard is the age-old home remedy. Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath has been used in England for 40 years and is a combination of Mustard Seed Powder, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Wintergreen and Thyme to eliminate acid waste and balance pH. Excellent for cold symptoms as well.

Deep Cleansing – Find your favorite scent of salt scrub – lavender, citrus, berry, etc. and lightly scrub all over using an exfoliating mitt or loofa – soak for a while more for amazingly soft skin.

Valentine Romance – Bubbles, of course! Rose petals, sparkling wine, candlelight, a small plate of chocolates, and you have all the components of a sensuous, relaxing evening.

Is it Time for Your Digital Detox?

Welcome to 2015. A new year starts and an old one is put to rest. January is traditionally a time to look forward, set goals and reassess. That’s a difficult task to accomplish when careful thought is routinely interrupted while feelings of having to constantly keep up with everything plague you. But, by taking care to step back, you move forward more quickly and much more happily. A wonderful tool to help you do just that is a digital detox.

A digital detox is when you power off all mobiles, smartphones, tablets and computers for a certain amount of time. A minimum amount of time should be as close to 24 hours as possible. (There is no maximum time, it can be days or months.) Sounds simple, but when you start to itch because you haven’t checked email, Facebook or texted anyone for a few hours, you’ll start to realize how addicting these time-eating habits truly are.

Once you make it through the disconnect time, you might be surprised how clear-headed and refreshed you feel. Getting out from under information overload is a huge jump towards letting go of stress, relaxing and feeling more prepared to begin again. Simply put, it prevents burn out.

Try it, if only for half a day to start, weekends and holidays are perfect choices. When you feel like you really need to check in on Facebook, write a poem (it doesn’t have to even be a good poem) or in your journal or start reading a book, anything but “checking in.” Feel the need to connect with someone? Go for a walk with a friend and leave the phones behind or write a note on stationery and send it via mail. You’ll feel uneasy at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel very empowered and emerge recharged and with a clear perspective.

It’s a simple but powerful thing. Get away from your digital chains, move your body, explore (a new store, art gallery, hiking trail…), take the time to look closely, listen and just BE for a time. The results will not only be a more productive you, but a happier and healthier you, too.

A Moment in Time . . . .

by Patti Rice

Wherever you look these days, there seems to be some article, hint or study on “balancing” your life. Balancing work, kids, spouse, down time, friends, personal growth, exercise . . . and now the added stress of finding a way to balance them all!

With all the time and obligations necessary for work and family, how can we ever have downtime for ourselves? I have to be honest here and say I’m among the worst at making time for myself. I’ve always thought my family and my job are far more important than me. And, in many ways I still believe that. However (and that is a big however), I have come to believe what someone told me a long time ago – “What good are you to them if you are no good?” Then it clicked – I have to take care of myself or I won’t be able to take care of them. So, can it REALLY be just as important for me to take time for a quiet walk, time to read, or have a massage as it is for me to work that extra hour or race home for what awaits me there? Yes, oh yes, it really is.

It is scary just how easy it is to lose the balance in life. When work becomes everything you do or home and the kids become your sole identity; sometimes you don’t even realize it’s happened. For me, I find it most challenging to get out my own head and see the imbalance in my life. We tend to forge ahead with the tasks, the responsibilities, checking off the never-ending “to do” list. But, do we ever put ourselves on that to do list? Usually not. Of course, there is always New Year’s when we make a stab at some resolution centered around our weight or health, but do we stick to it? Sadly, we rarely make it past a few weeks. We simply have added more stress by attaching deadlines and goals . . . and more expectations of ourselves.

My advice? Just take a moment whenever you can to be completely present in that moment. Maybe it’s on the drive to work – whether it is a glimpse of the moon or the start of a beautiful day. Perhaps it is noticing the sound of the leaves crunching on the sidewalk as you run an errand or the wonderful scent of dinner just made. Take a moment, breathe in deep, and be totally present for the moment. It’s amazing what just a moment can do to center you. It takes just a moment. One beautiful self-balancing moment. Try it now, just for you.

Planning for Valentine’s Day . . .

by Patti Rice

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” —Helen Keller

Christmas is behind us, another New Year has hit, and no doubt a number of you are deep into your newly made resolutions for 2015. One of my goals for 2015 is to better prepare for holidays so that I can put more heart into gift giving. I’ve decided to jump right into planning for Valentine’s Day. Hallmark says that over fifty percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased just six days prior to the day, so I think my selection should be broad this early!

Valentine’s Day seems to arrive suddenly sending us scurrying for flowers, candy, jewelry or dinner reservations. How about something entirely different this year? How about we take a servant’s heart approach and do for our significant other instead of just buy for?

Of course, this will take some planning in advance – paying attention to what you could do during their day to provide one unexpected and pleasant surprise after another. A fresh cup of coffee upon waking, a flower from the garden on the bathroom counter as they prepare for the day. A hand made lunch, with note of appreciation inside, waiting next to their car key (a sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it!) Other niceties might include being greeted with a hug and favorite beverage upon walking in the door – into a room already set for dinner. Maybe the wash and ironing is all done, the grocery shopping complete, the car washed and full of gas. Maybe it is whisking them away for a drive along the coast, or a picnic in the redwoods. I find that with the more Valentine’s Days that pass, the less I care about flowers and candy and really hope more for a nice experience.

Another idea you might consider is drawing a bath – it is an art to set the stage for a perfect relaxing bath. Selecting the right scent, salts or oils, water temperature, a soft pillow to rest your head, the perfect beverage, music, reading material, level of lights, and of course, bubbles or no bubbles?  Next month I’ll give several recipes for the perfect bath experience – for relaxation, for detoxification, muscle stress therapy or a simple cleansing soak.

In the meantime, I challenge you to come up with a creative, experiential Valentine – whether it is for a loved one or for YOU!