6 Tricks to Surviving Finals Week the Healthy Way

December not only brings holiday cheer and home cooked meals with relatives, but for those of us in the throes of higher education, it means… FINALS. A time when college folks bury their heads in books and pull all nighters trying to remember everything they learned in the past semester. (We certainly don’t miss those days!) With all that stress, it’s easy to resort to making unhealthy choices, which only result in a short-term gain. Follow these simple tips to survive finals week and in the end you’ll be healthier for it (and hopefully get those straight A’s):

1. Go bananas!

Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, which help deliver oxygen to the brain to keep your mind sharp. Avoid energy drinks and sugary foods that make you crash. Put down the Skittles!

2. Light a rosemary candle

Turn your dorm room into an at-home spa by lighting some aromatic candles. Natural scents have a direct path to the brain and increase oxygen flow. Rosemary is recommended for increasing memory and help disguise that mysterious odor you’ve been trying to identify for months.

3. Stay awake with peppermint or cinnamon

Feeling yourself dozing off? Put the Red Bull and your friend’s Adderall down… that is no good for your body. Try taking a whiff of peppermint or cinnamon to awaken your senses! Check out some of the other health benefits of cinnamon from Dr. Wendy Bazilian’s Cinnamon Challenge.

4. Do some simple yoga moves

Before you hit the books, hit the mat. Yoga helps you concentrate and stretch out those other muscles you aren’t flexing by sitting at your desk for hours. Try the Warrior III Pose (pictured above), and these 5 yoga moves to stretch out the stress.

5. Get a massage

Your brain can only absorb so much information, so take a study break at the spa. Getting a massage creates chemical changes in your body that reduce pain and stress. It can also help you avoid getting sick while your body is under a great amount of stress. After a 50 minute massage, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to face those exams. Check out our December Spa Deals for some options near you.

6. Get 8 hours of sleep

You may think your brain is turned off while you’re sleeping, but it’s working just as hard. A process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing the information you obtained throughout the day. There’s no point in cramming for a test if you aren’t going to retain anything!

And remember…

Good luck!

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Spa Foodie: 4 All-Natural DIY Treatments to Fight Fall Dehydration

With fall definitely in full swing and winter right around the corner (who else got stuck in the snow this past weekend?!), you may start to see changes in your body. In colder months, we tend to be more dehydrated and that dries out our skin, hair, hands and scalp.  That’s because we are less likely to drink water on a regular basis during the winter like we do in the sweltering summer months. When our bodies aren’t hot, we forget that we need to be drinking water all throughout the day.

Not to mention, thirst is such a tricky sensation to measure and understand. Most of the time when you first notice you are parched, you are actually already dehydrated. And even more often, when you feel hungry, your body is signaling you that, in fact, you’re thirsty. Drinking water regularly throughout your day is a great way to stay hydrated and you will see a difference in the moisture levels of your skin, hands, hair and scalp. But for some of us, drinking water isn’t enough and we need some extra help from at home remedies with nourishing ingredients like honey, olive oil, vinegar and rosemary.  Here are four, all natural, do-it-yourself, at-home treatments that you can make to help sooth these issues during the winter months:

Dry Skin: Honey and Vinegar Toner

Fill a spray bottle and spritz or dab toner on face with a cotton ball before applying moisturizer to lock in moisture and use less product. Then spritz a fine mist over your finished face to set your make-up, making it last longer. Apply toner throughout the day to refresh dry skin with a quick pick-me-up.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ Cup apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix honey and apple cider vinegar in a mixing bowl
  2. Stir until completely dissolved
  3. Store, covered in plastic wrap in refrigerator 3 days, stirring daily
  4. Apply to face and neck with cotton ball or with a spray bottle

Brittle Hair: Hot Oil Hair Treatment

Use this intensive treatment twice a month to rehydrate dry hair and prevent dandruff.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine oil and rosemary in a small saucepan over stove-top low heat
  2. Stir constantly and bring to a low simmer
  3. Remove from heat and strain, to remove leaves from oil
  4. Coat scalp and ends of hair with hot oil
  5. Wrap hair in saran wrap and cover with towel to retain heat
  6. Leave on 15 minutes
  7. Rinse with warm water remove excess oil

Cracked Hands: Olive Oil and Almond Gloves

For best results, wear gloves overnight or for at least 15 minutes every other day. For added soothing, microwave oil mixture in a small bowl for 30 seconds then pour in gloves. Recipe and image via.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Teaspoons of almond extract
  • 2 rubber gloves
  • 2 rubber bands or hair-ties

Instructions:

  1. Holding one rubber glove upside down, distribute 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of almond extract into each finger of the glove
  2. Put glove on and secure around wrist with rubber band/hair-tie
  3. Repeat with other glove and secure on opposite hand

Flaky Scalp: Herbal Shampoo for Dandruff Relief

Use once, every other week to sooth dry, itchy scalp. For first-timers, try this shampoo on a day that you wont have to style your hair right away. This allows the rements of the treament to stay on the scalp as long as possible without being disrupted by a blow dryer or styling products.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons of liquid Castile soap (vegetable-based soap available at drug/grocery stores)
  • 1 Teaspoon light vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Steep herbs and coconut flakes in boiling water for 20 minutes
  3. Let cool to room temperature and strain solids from water
  4. Add other ingredients and mix until well combined
  5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature
  6. Apply amply to wet hair and massage into scalp
  7. Rinse well with cool water

Recipes/images via

Stop and Smell the Essential Oils

By Shelby Jones, ISPA

A fresh, invigorating and instantly calming scent fills your nose as soon as you walk through the door – you must be at the spa. You know the smell, it’s the aroma of well-being. Everyone wants to re-create that scent and take it home. The good news is – you can!

Essential oils used in treatments like massage, facials, body wraps and hydrotherapy baths (pretty much anything on the spa menu) have been used for thousands of years. This ancient healing art dating back to 4,500 B.C. is better known as aromatherapy.

In aromatherapy, plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers are used to create essential oils that not only smell fantastic but have healing powers. The oils are used to treat emotional disorders, organ dysfunction and skin problems through a variety of internal and external application techniques. The best part is that they smell fantastic since most of the oils are extracted from rosemary (memory booster), lavender (stress reliever), roses (fights depression and anxiety), chamomile (antiseptic and acne fighter), eucalyptus (enhances concentration and helps with respiratory issues) and peppermint (digestive aid).

One of the most popular treatments in spas today is an aromatherapy massage, offered by 85 percent of U.S. spas that have massage offerings (ISPA 2011 U.S. Spa Industry Study).  A lot of these same spas sell essential oils so you can take the experience home.

If you want to learn more about different spa treatments visit ISPA’s spa glossary at experienceispa.com.

Shelby Jones is based in Lexington, KY at the ISPA  headquarters, Spa Week’s exclusive trade partner. She has worked as ISPA’s Public Relations Manager for five years where she connects with top media outlets to promote ISPA members and the spa lifestyle. To get in touch with Shelby please email her or follow @ISPADoYou on Twitter. If you’re in the spa industry, we encourage you to become a member of ISPA; weekly e-mails with pointers like these are just one small part of the package to help you succeed!

5 Scent-sational Spa Deals

Today’s beautiful NYC weather has made all of us cranky New Yorkers positively peppy. Everyone is outside soaking up the rays and enjoying the smell of hot pretzels and toasty hot dogs—Manhattan’s eau de parfum at its finest.
If you’re in need of soothing scents that will tickle your nose hairs (more than salty peanuts), here are five spas participating in our May Spa Deals that are offering aromatherapy treatments at special prices.

Cinnabar Acupuncture Clinic & Spa in San Diego, CA is offering a 75 Min Rugged Bourbon and Sweet Vanilla Massage Scrub, sure to awaken your senses and your pores, $95.

Enjoy an indulgent Aromatherapy Swedish Massage for $105, with essential oils at INDABA Spa at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL.

Ageless Skin Solutions in Marlton, NJ is offering a relaxing fell-service package featuring a 60 Min Hot Stone Swedish Massage, Peppermint Nap Time Foot Massage and Eucalyptus Sinus Relief Pressure Point Face Massage all for just $79!

Prep your body for summer with the soothing aromas of a 60 Min Rosemary Mint Awakening Body Wrap for $89.95, normally $150 at Aveda Red Bell Spa in Hicksville, NY.

Take time to smell the roses during a 60 Min Rose Garden Facial for $65, normally $90 at Norris of Houston in Houston, TX.

Click HERE for a complete listing of spas offering sweet-smelling Spa Deals near you.