Exam stress. Cafeteria food. Cramped quarters. Late nights. Non-stop socializing. When viewed this dispassionately, it's obvious that college can become a truly toxic environment. For many women, a quick trip to the spa helps kick-start a healthy regime, but when you've got to pay for textbooks, who has change left over for chi-chi treatments? This year, forget about high-priced pedicures and aromatherapy that will leave you in the red. Instead, gather up your girls and host a college spa party in your own dorm room! Here are some easy-to-follow tips that will have you and your girlfriends pampered and relaxed in no time.
Envision your room as a spa
Plush day spas are often known for their large, tranquil spaces. But, as long as you have enough room for everyone to relax, and access to a fridge and some running water, you've got all you need to set up an in-room spa.
Throw some pillows on the floor, commandeer a few sinks and ask all of your friends to bring an old hand towel and their own nail tools. Just be prepared, when other ladies on your floor find out what's going on, you might wind up with a few uninvited guests!
Set the scene
Before your girlfriends arrive, dedicate your day to decorating – and have fun doing it! Find out if any items (particularly candles) are off limits in your living space then make your room as peaceful as possible.
Turn off the lights and television (you can even cover the TV with a plush fabric to keep it completely out of sight), open the windows for fresh breezes and play tranquil music at a low volume.
For Liz Robbins, classical music was the antidote to stress at the University of Southern Maine. "It was soothing and helped me relax and focus," says Robbins.
When you've got your scene set, lay out recycled paper plates, cups, paper towels and possibly even organic cotton t-shirts for everyone to wear. Feeling even more festive? Have the shirts printed (ask about ink options) or embroidered to mark the spa party occasion. (Visit IdealBite.comfor more eco-friendly ideas.)
Serve light, healthy snacks
Clear out your mini-fridge because an in-room spa requires some light and tasty snacks. Let your food and drink do double duty as brain food by stocking up on healthy fruits, veggies, juices and smoothies that you can store and serve with minimal fuss.
Holly Clegg, author of the Trim & Terrific cookbook series, advises hostesses to take advantage of pre-cut fruits and veggies. "It takes time to cut them up at home," says Clegg, "and time is important."
The same goes for fresh squeezed juices and smoothies that you can purchase already prepared. But don't be afraid to serve up a treat or two as well. Dark chocolate is known to contain antioxidants that contribute to heart health, so splurging on a small piece might just be what the doctor ordered.
Pamper yourself with homemade spa recipes
Skip the pricey spa packs so often found at drugstores and use common grocery items to mix up a few premium pampering recipes. Be sure to advise your guests of the ingredients so that they can avoid any to which they might be allergic, and keep all concoctions clearly labeled to avoid confusion.
Homemade facial masks (apply, relax, rinse off with warm water):
- Exfoliating face mask: Mix three parts olive oil with one part kosher salt for a gentle scrub.
- Moisturizing face mask: Apply pure honey to your skin for a sweet facial treatment.
- Firming mask: Mash together one banana and one spoonful of honey and slather it on to relieve tired skin.
- Sun-dried skin soother: To combat skin dried out by the summer sun, mix together one peeled avocado and two spoonfuls of olive oil.
Other delicious treatments:
- Eye relief: Brighten up eyes with soothing tea bags or cucumber slices and let anyone partaking of these refreshers to lay down and enjoy the peace and quite.
- Hand and nail scrub: Combine three parts olive oil with one part lemon juice and kosher salt. Rinse with warm water.
If you decide to polish your nails, try Peacekeeper Cause-metics
or Honey Bee Garden WaterColors
products to make sure you've got all natural alternatives. Or, make like environmentally minded freelance writer Jenny Rough and skip the polishes altogether. "I stopped painting my nails a few years ago and they are 10 times healthier and stronger," says Rough, who now prefers buffing nails to a healthy shine.
Sweat out your stress and get a rosy glow
Of course, a one-room spa is only relaxing for so long. When you and your girlfriends have had your fill of soothing treatments, food and fun, walk down to your campus fitness center.
Investigate private rooms for exercise tapes or the possibility of joining an on-going class. Libby Hennessy, a PhD student at Boston's Harvard University, finds that physical fitness is a great way to tackle stress. "Sometimes it just helps to sweat it out," admits Hennessy, who finds yoga and kickboxing classes especially worthwhile. Not to mention the resulting rosy glow is the ultimate natural beauty secret.
De-stress with regular in-room spa parties for a healthy, happy school year
There's no denying that college is a stressful setting, so this year wipe away the worries before they form with an easy in-room spa day. And remember, swiping a single idea for a quick de-stresser during the semester will help you have a happy, healthy year no matter what's in store for you!