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A bride-to-be has to include down time as an integral part of her wedding planning process.

Reduce stress with spa secrets at home

Ahh...the spa. The tranquil sounds, low lighting and refreshing treatments are just what the doctor ordered to add some peace and serenity to the hustle and bustle of your busy life -- especially during those hyper-stressed periods ... like when you're planning a wedding.

Let's face it, bridal stress is unique, connected to family dynamics and emotional challenges, and triggered by practical issues -- just ask any bride who has tried to interpret a tricky vendor contract or shop for bridesmaid dresses with their attendants. There is often a decision to make or challenge to resolve at every turn of that journey to the altar. Nuances become nuisances, and put you in a momentary tizzy.

Unfortunately, most of us don't have the time (or funds) to interrupt our daily routine and make spa visits more than an occasional treat. Luckily, there are many ways that bridezillas-in-training can treat themselves to "spa-tacular" experiences each and every day.

Here are a few ideas to add some "spa" to your day and achieve a more serene state of mind.

Shower worries away

From the minute you awake in the morning, step into a spa sanctuary with a revitalizing shower. Start by updating your current showerhead with an oversized rain shower, which provides a strong, invigorating rain shower experience with full coverage that envelops the entire body in high- performance water sprays. Or if you'd prefer a variety of spray options, try a multi-setting showerhead. These showerheads are readily available at home improvement stores in a variety of popular styles and finishes.

Create a pleasant "scentmosphere"

As you slip out of the shower, continue to stimulate your senses by smoothing aromatherapy oils over your skin. Products with essential oils provide both psychological and physical benefits; the aroma stimulates the brain, while the oils leave your skin feeling clean and moisturized. Some brands even offer a variety of body oils to "balance," "calm" or "refresh" your senses.

Mood music

Music has powerful effects on our mood. In fact, numerous studies prove that music can ease tension and uplift our frame of mind. As you start or end your workday, keep the pressures and stresses outside the car by swapping your Top-40 tunes for more tranquil harmonies. Amazon.com has a variety of great CD ideas, such as "Calm the Mind," a compilation of relaxing piano compositions and the soothing sounds of nature, or "Peace: Pure Classical Calm," a broad array of soothing classical tunes, or create your own serene mix by downloading your favorites from iTunes.

Less stress at your desk

Does work have you stressed out and tense? Take a few moments at your desk for the art of reflexology. This age-old technique involves applying pressure to the reflex points on the hands to improve circulation and stimulate relaxation. Start by pinching each of your fingertips. Then, grasp each finger at its base and tug firmly. Allow your grip to loosen slightly, graduating it from the base to the finger tip until your finger slips out of your grasp completely. Within minutes you'll be feeling less stressed and ready to finish out the day.

Fancy feet

Whether you're on your feet at work or just suffering from those stylish, but not so comfy shoes, the end of the day can leave you with sore and swollen feet. Luckily, treating your tootsies is simple to incorporate into your day - even while working on other tasks. Try a footbath with a variety of features, such as bubbles, jets and loofah, to energize your sore soles. Or for an easy (and inexpensive) fix, use a small, frozen plastic water bottle and roll your feet over it to stimulate pressure points and reduce swelling. Both treatments will refresh fatigued feet and are simple enough for you to enjoy while multi-tasking.

Time out

A bride-to-be has to include down time as an integral part of her wedding planning process. When you feel the stress building, take time out, go for a walk, slip into a movie, get a massage, go for a manicure, write in a journal, do something un-wedding. You have to be able to love, honor and cherish yourself before you can make that same pledge at the altar.

By adding just a few of these spa-like secrets to your day, you'll soon be feeling cool, calm and collected - all without an appointment!

(ARA)