Simple Wellness Practices that Transform Your Bathing Ritual

I’ll be honest, I’ve wasted many a shower composing emails in my head, or tallying up a mental list of to-dos to check off the minute I’m dried and dressed. I think it was becoming a mother that made me realize that a routine shower (or bath) is less a task to perform on autopilot and more of a self-care ritual to be savored.

I challenge you to seize those precious bathing moments to incorporate some simple wellness practices that will help you look and feel your best— mind, body and spirit. I try to incorporate a few of these 8 practices every time I bathe, whether I’m hopping in for a quick rinse or taking time out for a long soak.

wellness-shower-bath.JPG

8 Wellness Practices that Transform Your Bathing Ritual

1. Gratitude. You’ve probably already made a mental note to bring more gratitude into your life, but you may not have found the time to be consistent. So incorporate it into your bathing ritual. When I shower in the morning, it wakes up my senses and I’m instantly grateful for another sunrise, the calming feeling of warm water flowing over my body, a roof over my head, and food that will be my breakfast meal.

2. Healthy Beauty. Your bathing ritual just won’t support your body and beauty if the products you use contain hormone-disrupting or carcinogenic ingredients. Put thought into the products you choose, and remember that your dollars are well-spent on products that absorb into your body in seconds, and influence your overall health. For ideas, I’ve shared lots of my favorite natural and organic products on this site!

3. Head massage. You know how drool-inducing a head massage can be at a salon, now slow down and bring those techniques into your regular routine. The benefits are way more than just pleasurable: gently massaging your scalp encourages the flow and drainage of lymph from your brain that keeps your brain and waste-removing lymphatic system in top form.

4. Deep, steamy breaths. If you’re showering, take a few moments to deeply breathe in steam that rises from the stream of water. You’ll calm your body, open up your airways, and help your body detox naturally.

5. Aromatherapy. In addition to steam, there are so many benefits to adding natural scents to your bathing routine; I recommend using small amounts of essential oils to avoid any synthetic fragrances. You can sprinkle a few drops of essential oils on your shower floor, make or purchase a baking soda-based aromatherapy tablet that dissolves on the floor of your shower and emits scent as you bathe, or mix essential oils with a carrier oil and/or natural salts to add to your bath. I share some of my favorite essential oils in this post.

6. Single-tasking. You’ve heard of multi-tasking, now single task— mindfully perform one task at a  time. I see this as kind of a mini warmup or trial run for meditation that strengthens the brain’s focus and calm in the same way. Pay attention to the details of your bathing ritual (even though I bet you could bathe in your sleep, it’s so routine) like scents, textures, and sensations, and you practice a habit that will serve you outside of your bathing ritual.

7. Dry brushing. I love dry brushing after I bathe— when my skin is clean and my circulation is already flowing. I think it’s the perfect addition to a bathing ritual, as it speeds up the flow of waste-removing lymph and brings glow and tone to your body (it can even reduce cellulite!). Get your own natural-bristle body brush and add this quick, transformative step to your routine using instructions found here or in the Eat Pretty books.

8. Skin-nourishing oils. The final wellness-boosting step I’d encourage you to adopt in your bathing routine is applying high-quality natural or organic oils to your skin. This practice gives you a chance to touch your skin, head to toe, and love your body. And plant-based oils will enhance the effects of your beauty diet from the outside-in.

What wellness practices do you love to incorporate in your own bathing ritual?

Build a Better Beauty Sleep Ritual

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

I absolutely love sleep.

I've said many times that good sleep is even more valuable than the most expensive night cream you can buy. It's so important for skin, energy, weight, moods—you name it—that I devoted a whole chapter to beauty sleep in my book Eat Pretty. Did you know that when you sleep your body secretes anti-aging hormones that boost skin cell production, increase collagen synthesis, and speed up damage repair? And that lack of sleep contributes to collagen breakdown, immune suppression, as well as slowed metabolism and cravings for sugar and simple carbs? Good sleep is a beauty MUST HAVE.

One key to getting the kind of sleep that's most restorative to your skin and balancing to your hormones is regularity. Your body, and nature, loves a regular cycle. Maintaining a similar schedule of sleep and wake times goes a long way toward optimizing your restorative pillow time. And the time you turn out the light and go to sleep is also key. I strongly believe that there is an ideal bedtime window (which varies in individuals but is between 9 and 11pm in general) for falling asleep to prevent a nighttime surge in cortisol, the stress hormone that has many negative effects on your beauty and sleep if it remains high. Find your ideal lights-out time (mine is 10:30) and try not to stay up past it.

And there's really so much more you can do to get fabulous beauty sleep. Ahead, I share some of the most effective strategies for optimizing your precious hours of beauty rest...

My top 5 beauty sleep rituals—practice them to look & feel better in the morning!

1. Shut off your devices at a reasonable time. When I'm on my computer or phone late, my sleep is noticeably worse. Blue light from screens is partially to blame, but your brain being keyed-up with work or social media plays a part too. I try to set a nightly shut-off time for my devices (say, 9pm) and stick to that as often as I can to protect my sleep health.

2. Sip something warm and calming. I keep a stash of herbal teas and reach for them when I want snacks, sweets, or chocolate late at night—which I know will disturb my sleep. Many herbal teas actually help relax you. Nighttime favorites include a digestive blend (see p 309 in Eat Pretty Every Day for ingredients), tulsi, or a Natural Calm magnesium drink, which further relaxes the body and prepares it for restful sleep.

3. Take a bath. You already know that baths feel amazing, but do you know why they're especially sleep-inducing? Baths raise your body temperature and then lower it when you exit the bath, signaling to your body that it's time for sleep. Add some salts and essential oils like lavender and sandalwood for even greater chill factor. I'd take one every night if I could, but I settle for days when I've been especially busy or stressed, and it helps me wind down.

4. Set aside nightly self-care time. Yes, washing your face counts as self-care. But I challenge you to do more. If you bathe or shower at night, definitely opt for a dry brushing ritual, followed by a head-to-toe natural or organic body oil or lotion. Your skin and body will be so relaxed, and you'll get the best sleep. Right now I am using the incredibly lovely Osmia Night body oil from the latest Beauty Heroes Discovery Box, and it's the best pre-sleep oil I've ever used. It combines more than a half-dozen organic oils (think evening primrose, hemp, kukui nut, avocado...) with organic French lavender and Roman chamomile, two classic calming botanicals that are ideal for nighttime. Overall, this particular oil is relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin. After this ritual, you'll feel so luxurious you'll want to sleep in silk sheets!

5. Clear your mind. Taking 3 minutes to write a quick to-do list for the next day helps me feel less stressed and more organized before getting into bed. Nothing keeps me up more than a racing mind. I also love journaling my thoughts, or even taking time to express gratitude, in my head or in writing, for the gifts of the day.

What's your must-do ritual for beautifying sleep? You can read more in-depth about the foods and habits that support great sleep in Eat Pretty!

Beauty Ingredient 101: Lavender

Lavender, like the very best natural beauty ingredients, has a ton of benefits. It's not only soothing to your mind, it's used to relieve insomnia, depression, head and stomach aches- even scalp itchiness and hair loss. But I didn't always love it...

Read More