Sink Up to your Chin in a Warm Bath
Take a bath before bed to induce a sound sleep—now more important than ever. Add one of these: Origins Float Away Sleep-Inspiring Milk Bath or Aromapothecary Bath Oil. Sink up to your chin in a warm bath before bed to induce a sound sleep—now more important than ever.
Put on a Happy Face
Don't let an overloaded to-do list sabotage your bridal glow. Treat your stressed-out complexion to the luxury of a spa facial—without ever leaving home. Neutrogena's Hydrating Facial Cloth Masks are one appealing way. Steeped in a skin-brightening vitamin C solution, they come four to a box, individually wrapped. For extra comfort, warm an unopened packet in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes before you start. Another moisturizing soother: Biotherm D-Stress Peau Sèche, with vitamins and magnesium, the mineral known to promote relaxation. As you breathe in the mask’s fragrant essential oils, you'll enjoy a calming aromatherapy session. Sco’s Deep Cleansing Face Mask is another two-in-one product we like—not only does it thoroughly remove impurities, it primes your complexion for further treatments.
Make Your Shower Serene
There's no doubt showers and tubs are perfect getaways—there are no cell phones or beepers to mar your solitude. Begin your shift from stressed to sublime with a gentle cleanser like Aveeno’s Stress Relief Body Wash—redolent of lavender, chamomile and ylang-ylang. Bigelow’s Body Massage Soap is also enticing, both for its cleansing qualities and luscious mint-eucalyptus scent. When time is on your side, luxuriate in a bath scented with one of Aromatherapy Associates’ Bath & Shower Oils, also available in miniatures that come nine to a box. In either form, they promise to "relax, de-stress, revive and rescue."
Treat Your Feet
Whether you indulge yourself at one of their famous Red Door salons or in the privacy of your home, Elizabeth Arden has products to sweep you off your feet—all from the E-solutions Skin Care Collection: Mandarin Polishing Beads, a citrus-scented exfoliator to smooth away rough skin; Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask to seal in moisture; Pedi-Cure Heeling Foot Mousse to soften and fight troublesome fungus infections; and Foot Creme, an extra-rich moisturizing emollient. Go to www.reddoorsalons.com to find an Elizabeth Arden Salon & Spa near you.
Do Some Sensible Exercise
One way to help yourself go with the flow is to unroll your yoga mat and unwind. To get closer to nirvana, why not add a little aromatherapy to your practice? Robin Whitney Levine, a New York City yoga instructor, has introduced a wonderful new way to relax at the Equinox Fitness Clubs. Called Aroma Yoga, it fuses the practice of yoga with that of applying and breathing in the aroma of mood-enhancing essential oils. "As you go through each pose, it's important to breathe fully and deeply," says Levine. "Inhaling the scent of the oils is one way to keep you focused on your breathing."
Here's how to do Aroma Yoga sessions at home:
• Start by shopping for essential oils, usually available at health-food stores. Look for those labeled therapeutic grade or pharmaceutical grade. Otherwise you run the risk of buying one that’s simply a fragrant oil, with little aromatherapeutic value. One brand Levine recommends is Oshadhi.
• Try a single-note oil like grapefruit or lavender, which takes the edge off nervous tension. Or a blend of scents called Peace and Calming from the Young Living Company (youngliving.us). It’s a cocktail of ylang-ylang, for balance; tangerine, to elevate mood; patchouli, to produce a feeling of warmth; and blue tansy, which promotes tranquillity.
• Before you begin your yoga session, shake two or three drops of oil into your left hand and rub your palms together briskly. Then cup them over your face so your fingertips touch your brows and your thumbs rest on your cheeks. Inhale, then exhale, and breathe in the scent.
• When you have finished, drink plenty of water. True essential oils are lipid-soluble, allowing them to penetrate the skin and enter your bloodstream. Water flushes the oils out of your body. Massage Your Worries Away You can easily alleviate tightness in your neck and shoulders by turning the everyday ritual of applying hand cream into a tension-melting massage. Two smart choices: Jason Hand & Body Therapy in chamomile (Jason-natural.com) and Essencia Lavender Mint Body Crème (essenciaonline.com).
Massage Your Worries Away
Let your fingers do the de-stressing with this exercise from Stephanie J. Keisler, a licensed massage therapist at the Sea Change Healing Center in New York City.
• Gently rub the cream into your neck, squeezing the right side of your neck with your right hand, then the left side with your left hand. Alternating sides, work your way down to your shoulders.
• Using firm pressure, massage each side of your trapezius, the muscle between your neck and shoulder blades, with both hands.
• Next place your right hand on the left side of your trapezius and gently knead this area by squeezing with your fingers, then releasing. As you knead the muscle, rotate your left shoulder backward, then forward five times. Relax. Continuing to knead the muscle, rotate your left shoulder forward then backward five times. Relax, then repeat sequence with your left hand on the right side of your trapezius. Imagine a Peaceful Place To tune out tension, you don’t have to trek to a mountaintop and chant mantras. Visualization exercises can work wonders in banishing woe, says Kathy Freston, author of Expect a Miracle: 7 Spiritual Steps for Finding the Right Relationship (Griffin Trade paperback).
Close your eyes and do this:
• For the moment at least, banish all thoughts of disgruntled caterers and possible rain on your outdoor site.
• Give all your energy to what is right and good. Visualize yourself walking down the aisle in your dream dress.
• Steer your mind to a positive, happy place. Bask in the joyful connection between you and your groom.
• Lighten Your Mood. Meditating by candlelight is another effective way to assuage anxiety. Simply light a scented candle, sit for a few minutes and delight in the aroma, suggests Freston.
• Slow down*.* When you light your candle, shift your energy from frenetic to peaceful. Be still, close your eyes and take deep breaths. As you inhale and exhale, you’ll feel inner peace.
• Invite grace in. "When we plan the perfect wedding, we think it is up to us to make everything happen," says Freston. "We forget the miraculousness that is all around us. Take a moment to remember that grace is at work in the wings."
• Set your intention. Don't fixate on planning the ultimate party. Instead, focus on the wedding as a sacred ceremony joining you and your fiancé. You want to come from a calm place, not a boxed-in corner where you’re constantly obsessing.
Beauty tip: Candles scented with essential oils will help put you in the mood to meditate. Two suggestions: White Barn New York Scented Candle in orange flower and Ergo Spa Candle Therapy in its Zen fragrance, a wonderfully introspective blend of sandalwood, frankincense and myrrh (ergocandle.com). By taking a few doses of TLC as you count down to your big day, not only will you be more relaxed, but so will everyone around you. Go ahead and spoil yourself—you’ll walk down the aisle with a lit-from-within radiance that’s for real!