Everyone deserves a treat yo’self night. And not just because Parks & Rec said so. It’s because if we don’t indulge in some self-care, if we skip it to keep working, it could have major ramifications on our health. In a study published in the journal, Environment International, researchers found that overwork is the single largest risk factor for occupational disease.
That same study found that working 55 hours or more a week could put you at a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease.
I’ll stop with the doom and gloom statistics now, but hopefully you see my point. Taking some “you” time is important. For some people that may look like going to the gym, or getting coffee with a friend, however if you’re more of a face mask and chill kind of person, you’re in luck because I’ve got the scoop for you.
Single-use sheet masks and giant hot baths may not be considered the most eco-friendly forms of self-care, but just because the word “relaxation” may trigger these images (thanks, society), doesn’t mean there aren’t more planet-friendly ways to achieve pure tranquility. To prove it, I’ve got a round up of everything you’ll need to create a sustainable self-care routine.
Sustainable Self-Care Essentials
What scent do you associate with relaxation? For me, it’s eucalyptus and chamomile. Hence why I can commonly be found sipping on chamomile tea while sitting next to my eucalyptus vanilla candle. Pick a scent that gives you that oh-so-calm feeling, and fill your room with it. You can do this with a nice candle (look for soy or beeswax candles for maximum sustainability), an essential oil diffuser, or even by bringing the actual source of the scent into your space. For example, hanging eucalyptus in your shower can clear your sinuses, hydrate, and most importantly, provide a relaxing natural scent that brings that spa-like feeling to your bathroom.
A dry brush
If you’d like to indulge in a massage without shelling out $100 for a stranger to put their hands all over you, try dry brushing.
“Dry brushing unclogs pores in the exfoliation process. It also helps detoxify your skin by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow/drainage,” dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, said in a statement.
So what is a dry brush and how do you use it? Well, first things first, don’t reach for your typical hair brush, even though it is in fact a dry brush. You’ll want to select one with a long handle and natural fibers. Then, before hopping in the shower, use it to brush your skin in wide, circular, clockwise motions. Start at your feet and work your way upwards. Just make sure to avoid broken or sensitive skin areas as it can cause further irritation. Bathe and moisturize after for optimal results.
A bath or shower
I know I said earlier that baths don’t exactly put the “sustainable” in sustainable self-care, but that doesn’t mean you’re barred from ever taking them. They can be great for your mental health, at least according to a study by Neil Morris, psychologist at the University of Wolverhampton, who observed 80 people who took a bath every day for two weeks.
“I found that bathing improved general psychological wellness radically,” Morris said in a statement. “There was a significant drop in feelings of pessimism about the future and increases in hedonic tone, the internal feeling of pleasurability, and I believe that the results could be even more impressive over a longer period of time.”
So take your bath (maybe just don’t take one every day for two weeks) and enjoy the comforting benefits. Add in some Epsom salts to soothe your muscles, and maybe some bubbles. If concerned about fragrance or irritation, I suggest looking for something formulated for children, as that is often more gentle than traditional bubble bath concoctions.
Ok, but what about people who hate baths, or don’t have a bathtub? Don’t worry I’ve got suggestions for you too. For my shower-lovers, enhance the experience by using shower steamers or, as I mentioned earlier, eucalyptus to create a tranquil aroma. Light some candles to create a warm, calming glow (overhead fluorescent lights, no thank you). And then sprinkle in a few skincare steps that aren’t part of your usual routine. For instance, achieve that extra clean feeling with a sugar scrub. I like this rose one from The Little Market. In addition to leaving you with soft exfoliated skin, it also supports survivors of human trafficking.
An eco-friendly face mask
Up next, on eco-friendly personal care journey is facial skincare. Post-bathing is the best time for it, as that is when our pores are open and ready to soak everything in. But before throwing on a random one, think about what your skin needs. After all, doing a face mask for the sake of doing a face mask is kind of a waste it isn’t even targeting your skin’s problem areas, right?
If your skin is dry, look for something hydrating. If acne is the issue, look for clay masks or something exfoliating to help clean out those pores. Now, I’m not a skincare expert, so I’ll stop there with my tips, but if you’d like to dissect your skin type more, here is a great article that could help you.
What I can advise on, is how to select a more sustainable face mask. Try to avoid the single-use sheet masks, and instead opt for something you can get several uses out of. Also look for products that are packaged in glass as opposed to plastic. Face mask powders can be great options as well since they typically will last longer than pre-made clays or serums. The chlorophyll mask from Cocokind is one of my favorites, and Hive Brands also has a great selection including this rose clay mask that’s recommended for those with acne or oily skin.
When in doubt, you can also make your own DIY mask.
Time to reflect
So, you can put a face mask on to aid any skin issues you may have, but it does not fix everything. For that reason, it’s important to take time to reflect. You can get all of the facial’s and fresh mani’s that you want, but you still need to work on yourself internally. You can do this through journaling or even meditating. I personally struggle with meditation—just sitting and doing nothing but being with your thoughts—sounds like a nightmare. However, I’ve found that the Headspace app has been a huge help for me, and you can also find a variety of guided meditations for free on Youtube.
Related: 8 Ways to Cope With Eco-Anxiety
A good book
It is thought that reading can not only help prevent cognitive decline, but also reduce stress. So grab a cozy blanket, and dive into a good read. Before you buy that book brand new though, consider secondhand options. Ask friends or family if they have a book you can borrow, consult your local library, or purchase from secondhand book shops. If you don’t have any local to you, try betterworldbooks.com for a great selection.
A calming and sustainable beverage
Whether it’s a glass of wine, sparkling water, or a cup of tea, a soothing beverage can be the cherry on top of the perfect sustainable self-care night. Look for teas like chamomile or peppermint, which are thought to have calming properties. And for max sustainability look for loose leaf teas instead of bagged. This cuts down on waste and prevents any micro-plastics from making their way into your mug. Arbor Teas has a great selection if you’re not sure where to start.
If you enjoyed learning about sustainable self-care and are craving more eco-friendly living tips, then sign up for The Eco Edit and join hundreds of other pro-planet enthusiasts who are passionate about bettering the world through small, sustainable steps.