Life's little luxuries...
January 3, 2014 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I spent a few days over the holidays at a yoga/wellness retreat, and had a fantastic time. I'm realizing though that a lot of things that made me happy weren't extravagant: time for yoga, selections of nice teas, healthy food, access to a sauna, time for walks, time for journaling, etc.) So now I'm back in the real world (and I'm in med school, so my life kind of sucks), but I'm trying to think of ways to re-create my time there, by adding small little luxuries to my own life. I can get the yoga down, and I've got new ideas for healthy foods, etc. But I'm wondering what small, simple things in your lives and homes make you feel nurtured and more relaxed. Thank you!
posted by namemeansgazelle to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 142 users marked this as a favorite
Good, clean, fluffy towels, and nice comfy slippers to wear around the house.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:50 AM on January 3, 2014

These bath mats. Totally worth it.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2014

Space. Surfaces that are not covered with stuff -- whether it's mail or tchotchkes or books that need to be stowed someplace. No holding onto things that aren't needed. No collections of anything whose only purpose is to be collected.

Cleanliness. I need to vacuum frequently because I have two cats who throw things around. But in addition to that, dust-free surfaces are calming to me.

Reserving time for meditation. Meditation creates big spaces in your mind and gives you a place to return to when your mind starts to spin out.

Also: Certain teas which I buy as loose tea, not tea bags, so as to ritualize the process a bit.
posted by janey47 at 9:54 AM on January 3, 2014 [15 favorites]

Bedding that I love to be in. That's different from person to person, but I love my heated mattress pad.
posted by michellenoel at 9:58 AM on January 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've started staying offline one day a week. It's definitely made me remember to take time and unwind a bit.
posted by mochapickle at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Candles. Especially really good smelling ones in the bathroom.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Towel warmer, especially during the cold months.
posted by kellyblah at 10:01 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with space and cleanliness. One of the nicest things about staying in a nice hotel is the counter space and selection of luxurious products. You only bring what you need and don't have lots of unused products cluttering up your cabinets, drawers, and counters.

My advice would be to pare down to your most luxurious products and get rid of everything else that doesn't work that well or smell that good.
posted by Fairchild at 10:01 AM on January 3, 2014 [10 favorites]

Where do you live? See if there is an affordable non-sketchy bathhouse in your area where you can lounge for a few hours and have access to a steam room, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge, meditation room, etc. For example, in Seattle we have the Hothouse which is a women-only space that is about $12 a visit - not something I'd do on a daily basis but definitely a great place for me to go to unwind every once in a while. Plus it's nice to have a change of scenery from your own bathroom and to have access to nice fluffy clean towels that someone else will wash for you.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you are washing your hands multiple times a day at work, a ritual of applying hand cream and cuticle oil before bed might be nice. I love the hand creams from L'Occitane. I recently ordered the rose from Sephora.
posted by Fairchild at 10:08 AM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Easy one. Daily meditation practice. 20 mins in the AM, 20 mins in the PM (after you do the asanas). It seems an extravagant allocation of time amid busy lives, but feels great (and replicates your post-retreat feeling), and you'll find that the time commitment pays for itself with increased clarity, relaxation, patience, and stress relief. You'll get a lot more done a lot more comfortably.

FWIW, I follow this (non-religious, non-joiny, stripped-down and simple) method, and I meditate with my back against a wall and a pillow behind my lumbar (makes it easier to let go). If you want, after a while add on the "spinal breathing pranayama" practice (not as bizarre as it sounds). I don't, fwiw, recommend the support forums at that site. Just do the practice as part of your daily shower/shave regimen rather than think/talk about it. If you have questions, feel free to PM me.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:16 AM on January 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Time to read for pleasure - not academic journals and NOT self improvement. I can read absolute trash and be blissfully happy because I'm not trying to cram data into my brain.

Pleasure reading. Everyday.
posted by 26.2 at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2014 [18 favorites]

Schedule into your day an hour, or into your week a day, time for relaxation. Don't just relax when there's a lull in your work. Schedule it in and stick to it. Even if that means waking up an hour earlier to take a sunrise walk, or saying no to all Wednesday night invitations in order to be on your yoga mat.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

A comfy bed made up with linens that I love the feel and look of. Squishy pillows I can hug as I fall asleep. Comfy pajamas to go with the comfy bed. Hand soap and shower gels that smell fabulous.
posted by stampsgal at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing a lack of clutter.

Nthing clean, clear spaces/counters. Everything in its place.

Nthing a few high quality, useful, meaningful things in your home instead of lots of cheap stuff that does not serve you well.

Nice smells.

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin is the absolute go-to sourcebook on the topic of "the small, simple things in your lives and homes make you feel nurtured and more relaxed" and therefore, happier.
posted by hush at 10:26 AM on January 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

About a year ago I began a nightly bedtime ritual that helps a lot with my relaxation throughout the day. I make sure to budget 20-30 minutes to read, knit, or journal, with my cat by my side nearly every night before I turn out the lights and go to sleep. It's something I look forward to, miss when I can't do it, and it really improves my quality of life. Time is a luxury itself.
posted by k8lin at 10:41 AM on January 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

A relaxation massage every 4-6 weeks does wonders for body and mind.
posted by kattyann at 10:49 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was working on my PhD and working full time, I had a rule. Every single night I got to have at least a 30 minute hot bath and could read something that wasn't related to work or school while I was in that bath. I scheduled my world around those thirty minutes. I woke up earlier, went to bed later, and sometimes skipped out on doing things that needed to be done because I *needed* that personal time with no demands and no thoughts. Just hot water and a trashy novel.

My life is significantly less stressed now, but I retain my bath ritual. It keeps me sane.
posted by teleri025 at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

Upgrade your lighting. I spend my days at work under horrible and buzzy flourescent lighting, so I love coming home to really bright and warm light and a fancy lamp or two.

Also, splurge on a pedicure every now and again for a bit of that spa feeling. I'll save up and go to a high-end spa once or twice a year for a really great pedi, and it makes me really happy and my feet look and feel great.
posted by TwoStride at 11:35 AM on January 3, 2014

I don't buy durable things that don't feel good. This makes online shopping a bit of challenge sometimes, but all of the clothes, linens, glassware, and cookware that I've purchased are weights/textures/shapes that I like. (I try to extend this as much as possible to "anything I keep" but gifts, found items, or thift store purchases that fill a need are given some leeway.) The majority of things I interact with over the course of the day feel pleasant to me, which may directly help me relax (a hot cup of tea in my favorite mug warming my hands) or at least don't add to the nuisance factor in my life.

In terms of luxurious non-durable goods, I find that a good body lotion or cream is where I get the most bang for extra bucks. Lush's Dream Cream is my personal favorite (and this reminds me that it's been awhile since I've treated myself to it).
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Along the same lines as k8lin's bath ritual...I carve out time in the morning before work for my coffee ritual (in your case maybe tea?). I get up early enough, about a 1/2hr to an hr so that I can read or watch tv while drinking my coffee before I start getting ready. I love it...I have the whole apartment to myself, essentially, and don't feel like I'm starting the day in a panic to get out the door on time. It took me awhile to get there...(I love the snooze button), but now I really look forward to it. Just last night I thought to myself, "I should go to bed now so the time will go by faster between now and my morning coffee ritual!" Not sure how feasible it would be for you since I'm imagining you have a pretty crazy schedule.

Another thing that makes me feel nurtured is preparing meals and snacks for myself, especially things to pack up for a busy day.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you have a television, get rid of it. you'll be amazed at the amount of space in multiple dimensions that it used up.

Listen to music that soothes.

Get a couple of plants for your bedroom and bathroom.
posted by mareli at 12:14 PM on January 3, 2014

When grading papers or doing school work, my wife loves to be barefoot and put her feet on a sheepskin rug.
posted by lstanley at 12:34 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Use your good stuff. Don't save your nicer clothes for special occasions -- get rid of anything that is ratty or just makes you feel blah and wear your nicer stuff for every day, even just around the house. Use the good china. (I'm drinking Coke out of a wine glass this very moment.) Replace any toiletries and cosmetics that are just OK with things you really like that are packaged beautifully, and start using them right away. Turn the mundane into a ritual - I love the feeling of brushing my hair with a boar-bristle brush, plus it's good for the hair.
posted by payoto at 1:08 PM on January 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Get rid of any ratty pairs of underwear that you don't like--the frayed, the stained, the uncomfortable, the weird pair that came in a pack with two normal ones--and replace them with pairs you do like. The temptation to hang onto "extra" undies so that you're never caught without is powerful, but avoiding ugly/uncomfortable knickers makes me feel calmer and happier.
posted by corey flood at 1:52 PM on January 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

Seconding towels. I had a shelf full of ones that were fine, until I impulsively replaced them with new ones from Costco. Life improved greatly.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:06 PM on January 3, 2014

To follow from my list of questions above, what I have actually got and used are wool fleece slippers that are just so warm and comforting, a (rather expensive) goose down pillow (stripped down the bed at a swanky hotel to find which brands made it such a gloriously comfortable bed), high quality wool socks, a Zero Japan teapot, two beautiful Revo internet radios (as I love listening to radio, and wanted one by the bed and one near the kitchen), Aesop toiletries, Rohnbahn notebooks as they feel so good to write in.

I also arranged my living room furniture in a way that creates a cosy corner by the window, where I spend a lot of time with a coffee on the window sill, wrapped in blankets reading or watching the clouds drift by.

I always feel good when I sort my day out so that I can get a walk in (mostly to and from work). Also, being outdoors and in nature.

I also try and keep a small selection of luxury drinks and snacks to create my ultimate hotel mini-bar at home. Think a few bottles of craft beer or cider, mini bottles of my favourite flavours of San Pellegrino mineral water and champagne and mixers (fancy tonic water etc), Rittersport or other quality chocolate bars, fancy granola bars, small packages of tasty nuts/snacks/crackers, and mini Magnum icecreams.
posted by AnnaRat at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

- flowers and plants. My parents gave me some orchid plants for Christmas and man, I feel so fancy right now. I keep moving them to whatever room I'm in.
- placemats. This helps with the whole eating-at-the-table-like-a-real-person thing, and makes dinner more of an event.
- a hot water bottle at the bottom of your bed about ten minutes before you go to sleep.
- nice glasses and mugs. I got some things at Ikea or Bed Bath & Beyond; they didn't cost much, but they make drinking things much more pleasant than the hodgepodge collection of drinking vessels I had before.
- really nice moisturizer and eye cream. I feel like a fancy lady now when I get ready for bed.
- a really nice cookie or food treat waiting for you in the refrigerator. I usually have a cake or something around, and each night before bed I have a piece. It's really quite pleasant.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:34 PM on January 3, 2014

Oh, in general, I figure out the things I spend the most time/energy on, and then get the nicest accessories for that that I can. So, I love to cook; therefore, I have really nice pots and pans, a great cutting board, awesome knives, etc. Look at the small things you use from day to day, and then upgrade those into the nicest versions you can find. Ritualize things; imbue them with as much value as you get out of them.

These recent pieces got me thinking about this; you might like them too: Placebo-philes and How money can buy happiness, wine edition.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:38 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you like tea, get yourself a nice selection of teas, and a pretty mug for said tea.

I also have a plug in water kettle for my tea, which heats the water to the perfect temperature. I adore tea, and I find that it makes quite a difference in the finished product.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:27 PM on January 3, 2014

If you drink coffee, invest in some nice coffee hardware. I treated myself to a bodum french press and one of those deluxe bodum coffee makers. You might even consider a nice electric burr grinder..

I second nice mugs too.

Also, get a SONOS. I love mine. Streaming music to multiple rooms is so amazing. Or if you only have one. I have one in the living room that comes on at 6am every morning playing a soft ambient music playlist. It's already playing when i come downstairs. At 7, it switches to npr news. You can set up all sorts of custom start and stop events and associate them with playlists, radio stations, world and local. It's the best! Expensive but worth every penny.
posted by dep at 3:57 AM on January 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

nthing the tea, and also, a rich moisturising cream for the face before I sleep. Your skin will thank you 10 years down the line :)
posted by onegoodthing at 6:24 AM on January 4, 2014

The feeling of pulling a towel from a stack of fluffy, Nice Bath Towels, folded the same way (which is easy, just pick one method of folding and as long as all your towels are the same they will stack nicely) - luxurious and easy. And nice towels do last for ages. Homegoods/Homesense is your friend for those. (I prefer all white because it feels most spa like)

N-thing the rest (music/SONOS, nice coffee/tea, empty surfaces and reduced toiletries, time for relaxation and exercise).
posted by olya at 1:52 PM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Getting rid of stuff! Set aside at least four hours - preferably an entire day - once a week to "defrag" one of your "partitions". A partition can be an entire room, or just a self-delineated section of a room, such as a cupboard. Be ruthless. Pull out every object, every piece of paper (all of these things are "files", and each shelf or section of your "partition" is a "folder"), and examine it for its usefulness, long-term value, and import. Have a "Recycle Bin" and "Shredder" at the ready to either donate/sell the object, or obliterate it. Your goal is to free up 50% of your life's hard drive space.

I find the easiest way to defrag is by starting with your shittiest partition, which is your junk room/cupboard/shelf. That's the stuff you think you might want to keep just in case, but you don't actually ever access the partition unless you're putting something in there - you can't remember the last time you actually took something out. Once you have ruthlessly purged the junk partition, something clicks in your brain, and it becomes much easier to defrag everything else.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:02 PM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Although we've got about seven inches of snow on the ground now, I love stepping outside in the morning when the neighborhood is quiet.
A comfortable chair to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine in the evening is awesome.
posted by rubster at 12:12 AM on January 10, 2014

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