Warm, Cozy & Pampered
It’s the middle of January. Cold. Gloomy. Typically, it’s quiet month without a lot to look forward to; the complete opposite of December. Spring seems a long way away. Did I mention cold? Short days with – here in the Midwest – just 10 hours of daylight. I don’t know about you, but my mood and activity levels are driven by sunshine. So when my first winter living solo was particularly cold and dark (or maybe that was just my soul), I spent evenings living like a slug. Binge watching TV, eating popcorn for dinner, and drinking too much wine. In our last blog post, we provided tips to help keeping warm and cozy in your apartment this winter. Today we’ll chat about keeping yourself (your soul) warm and cozy during the dark days of winter with a bit of self-pampering.
EPSOM SALT BATH
Have you ever soaked in an Epsom salt bath? Doesn’t that sound so … old-fashioned? Well one day a friend recommended it to me when I was tired, achy, and crabby. Call me a convert. After my bath, I was so relaxed, so warm, so cozy, and no more aches!
Epsom salts dissolve in water, which allows its magnesium and sulfates to be readily absorbed into skin. The salts are easy to use, easy to find, and inexpensive.
There really is no downside to taking a warm bath, although it’s important to check with your doctor first if you have low blood pressure as hot water can temporarily lower your blood pressure.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adults use two cups of Epsom salt per gallon of warm water. I’ve personally found two cups in a tub full of water to provide the comfort I need.
Soak for at least 15 minutes. To add to the luxury and relaxation of your bath, add a bathtub tray and load it up with a good book, a candle, and, perhaps, an adult beverage. Mmmmmm, I feel better just thinking about it!
Baby, when it’s cold outside chances are your hands are dry and uncomfortable. With no end to winter in sight, now is a great time to cozy up indoors and treat your hands to a super-moisturizing treatment and yourself to a relaxing few moments.
Winter Hand Mask
Assemble: Soaking bowl, 2 tablespoons baking soda; 3 tablespoon rolled oats, 2 tablespoons rose water, and 2 teaspoons almond oil.
- Soak your hands in hot water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for thirty minutes, then dry.
- Prepare mask by crushing oats finely and mixing remaining ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. Heat mixture very gently — just to the warm stage, in your microwave or on the stovetop (the oil should NOT be hot).
- Apply warm mask to your hands.
- Wrap hands in a clean towel, or slip on rubber gloves. Leave on until the mask cools.
- Rinse gently and apply a rich hand lotion or plant-based serum to help seal in hydration.
Ultimate relaxation may be one of the most obvious health benefits of foot soaks, but research shows that soaking your feet in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes per day can do wonders for your mood, your energy level, your sleeping habits, and any aches and pains that affect you — both in your feet and beyond. Talk about warm, cozy, and pampered!
To get started, you’ll need your bathtub, a large, shallow washbasin, or foot tub and a towel, bath mat, or drying cloth. Allow 15 to 60 minutes for your soak. Have additional hot water available to freshen up the water if you’re not using your bathtub. You’ll finish each foot soak with a cool water rinse.
When your ultimate goal is to relax and unwind, this recipe is just the ticket. According to a 2018 study, adding essential oils to your soak may help to relieve stress and anxiety, and put you in a more positive state of mind.
- 2 tbsp. carrier oil
- 5–20 drops of essential oils of choice
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- 1/4 cup dried flowers, such as rose, chamomile, and lavender
Steps for foot soak
- Mix the carrier and essential oils in a large bowl
- Add in the other ingredients to create a mixture
- Slowly dissolve the mixture into the tub of hot water
- Soak for 15 to 20 minutes
NOTE: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
WARM YOUR INNARDS
Have you ever had a hot toddy? Just before COVID, friends came to stay with me for a long weekend. Sadly, I was miserable with an ear ache. Once again, I found myself tired, aching, and crabby (wait, is this my normal state?!?). My friend Chad came to the rescue making me a hot toddy served up in a beautiful mug.
Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drunk before retiring for the night, in wet or cold weather or to relieve the symptoms of the cold and flu. In How to Drink, Victoria Moore describes the drink as “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.”
In its classic form, writes Barbara Rowlands for The Telegraph, the drink is served in a glass. It contains, she writes: “a shot of whisky (preferably malt), a teaspoon of honey and a dash of fresh lemon, topped up with boiling water poured over a silver spoon to prevent the glass from cracking.” Of course, you can always serve your toddy in a mug or pretty tea cup.
Add spices to the mixture to reflect your personal preference and the contents of your spice cabinet. Fresh ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise are lovely , fragrant, and tasty additions. My friend Chad studded a lemon peel with cloves.
The psychological effect of having a comforting warm drink is important! Stress and anxiety will have an impact on your immune system and lower your resistance. You could take a hot toddy in the way you might take a mild sedative or tranquilizer. Warm, relaxing, cozy.
How to Make the Best Hot Toddy
The secret to making the best hot toddy is simple—just tinker with the amount of lemon juice and honey until it suits your taste buds. You may be surprised by how an extra teaspoon of lemon juice or honey changes the flavor. Basics are in the recipe below.
Any good whiskey will do, like Bulleit Rye or Jameson Irish Whiskey, but you can also use Scotch, dark rum, brandy, or cognac.
- ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ ounces whiskey
- 2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste
- 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1 lemon round
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional, for garnish)
Okay, now that you’re perfectly relaxed – warm, cozy, and (hopefully!) feeling pampered – let’s dream of spring, sun, and long warm days.
RESOURCES: Healthline, Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia, Smithsonian, American Nurse Today, Fresh Skin, Seventh Generation