Pampering, by @suek.
Pampering is a word that used to make me cringe. It reeked of privilege, wealth, self-centeredness. It conjured up images of self-indulgent people lazing around in expensive spas getting weird stuff done to their bodies, like mud baths and salt scrubs. Not for me, thank you very much.
My idea of pampering myself, pre-sobriety, was splashing out on a more expensive bottle of wine for my daily tipple.
But what, really, is pampering? Is it over-indulging? Is it excessive? Is it really the territory of the rich and privileged? Online dictionary definitions support this idea, defining pampering as “excessive or extreme care or attention”, “excessive indulgence”, “gratifying tastes, appetites, or desires.” So my aversion came from a reasonably accurate understanding. But to be completely honest, my aversion wasn’t against the definition. It was a very deep-seated belief that I was not worthy of care and attention. At. All. I think all of us with addictive drinking patterns can recognize that the only “care” we prioritised for ourselves, was applying alcohol. And that, in fact, was excessive abuse, not care at all.
So let’s redefine pampering for our post-addicited lives. The way I see it now, pampering is something I do for myself, by adding some special rituals to my self-care routine. There’s no expensive spa or salon visits here. These ideas are almost free, and accessible to most people at home. But for sure, go to a spa if that’s your thing!
When I was about 12, I read in my parents’ Readers’ Digest magazine an article titled 'I Am Joe’s Feet'. That article made a huge impression on me, and gave me a life-long respect for my feet, their miraculous structure, the constant work they do, the abuse they take. The most consistent pampering thing I do for myself is to soak, scrub, and moisturize my feet. Once a month or so I set aside and hour, set myself up in the bathroom for a pedicure. It’s not flash! It goes like this:
- A bucket of warm water with a handful of epsom salts. (Any salt will do, or none. A few drops of peppermint essential oil is a treat for the feet.)
- Soak feet for at least 10 minutes.
- Scrub feet with a foot file or exfoliating cream.
- Fill the bucket with clean water and soak again.
- Scrub one more time, if your feet need it.
- Dry and moisturize.
One thing I love to do next is slather my feet in moisturizer, put on an old pair of socks, and lie on the couch for half an hour to let the moisturizer do its best work.
I’ve made this pampering ritual a bit easier to pull off by dedicating a small basket in my bathroom to my foot care: foot file, nail clippers, peppermint oil, exfoliation cream, foot moisturizing cream and old socks.
Getting a facial is probably one of the most popular reasons for going to a spa, but you can easily do one at home. The usual three-step routine—cleanse, tone, moisturize—is great for day-to-day. But I like to ramp it up with a face massage, particularly a massage focussed on stimulating the lymph nodes around the face and neck. This kind of massage seems to perk my whole body up, clears any sinus blocks, and helps with bags under the eyes if I do it regularly. Rather than try and describe these massages, here are some links to my favourite YouTube videos on the subject:
A quick full face massage you can use for daily pampering. I like to do this one in bed, before I go to sleep.
A lovely face massage with focus on anti-aging This one is perfect for us 60+ people.
A note on products for your face. They don’t need to cost the earth. Everyone has different skin, so you’ll have to find what suits you. But as an example, for my fairly dry skin I use:
- Cleanser: water and a face cloth for every day, and very occasionally a tiny amount of super mild oatmeal soap.
- Toner: simple rose water
- Moisturizer: coconut oil
All cheap, easy to get, and natural.
You know by now I’m a stickler for hand moisturizing as an essential self-care routine. But every now and then our hands can use a serious pamper. While a spa manicure is nice, you can pamper very inexpensively at home. Here’s my routine.
- Scrub using a tablespoon of olive, coconut, almond, or apricot oil.
- Add a teaspoon of sugar or salt. Get this all over your hands and spend several minutes rubbing your hands together and scrubbing every nook and cranny. The sugar or salt grains will rub off rough dry skin.
- Wash off all the remaining salt/sugar.
- Moisturise with your favourite hand cream.
This also works well for feet, elbows, knees... anywhere with dry skin.
When I first got sober, I read all the sobriety memoirs I could get my hands on. One thing that stood out to me, and stuck in my mind, was how many of those sober writers described taking a long soak in the bath, fully conscious, happily sober, simply relaxing into the warm water and really feeling it.
There is something about water, soaking in it, having it splash all over your body, that is super healing. And a few tweaks to your bath or shower routines can turn your daily splash into a luxurious pampering event. Here are a couple of ideas for an upgrade:
Before getting into the bath or shower, use a soft natural brush on your skin, to exfoliate and get the blood circulating. There are loads of YouTube videos about doing this. My routine is pretty easy. Use a softish body brush with natural bristles (photographed above). Start with the feet, and brush up the leg toward the knee, front and back of the leg, for a few envitorating strokes. Brush around the knees in circles. Move to the upper legs, brushing long strokes front back and sides. Round brushing at the hips. Same routine with the arms, elbows and shoulders. Brush your back if you can reach. And your stomach if you can bear it! Right away you’ll feel your blood circulation stimulated. After a few times, you’ll likely notice your skin is softer and smoother. Jump in the bath or shower as usual. Feel the difference in your skin!
This might sound counter intuitive, but for a really luxurious skin treatment, ditch soap in the bath or shower, and wash your body with a body lotion instead. It will leave your skin feeling totally moisturised. Full disclosure: you’ll need to wash your towels a bit more often, as the lotion stays on the skin, unlike soap.
The other thing to try, for a full body moisturise, is to finish your regular shower or bath, then slather yourself in body lotion before you dry off. The water on your body will disperse the lotion super efficiently, and it seems to help it absorb into the skin better.
A Home Spa
Once you get into some self-pampering routines, you might want to do some decluttering and deep cleaning in your bathroom, and have it set up with some favourite pampering potions and accessories, and nice quality towels and face cloths, so whenever the urge arises, you can book yourself in for a foot, hand, face or full body pampering treatment.
Does the word pamper press your buttons? What does it bring up for you? If you are into the home pampering concept, what are your favourite routines? Please share in the comments.
Until next time,