There are shower people and there are bath people. I have always been a bath person.
There’s something about slipping into a hot bath at the end of the day and relaxing as the weight of the world melts away.
When my children were very, very young, bathtime was my 20 minutes of calm. It was my sanity during an otherwise chaotic day. Inside the small room I was immediately calmed by the soothing sound of running water rushing into the large oval-shaped basin as the steam rose to the top. As the sudsy bubbles rose to the top, I’d climb in - sometimes with a book in tow, sometimes with the music on, sometimes with a glass of wine set on the corner. Often a fragrant candle set on the counter to help set the tone. Sometimes I left the lights on, other times I turned them off. (I think all modern bathrooms should have dimmers on the light switches.)
My children are now grown and my stresses are different. Life is nothing like it was when my children were babies but I still relish my bathtime, my solitude at the end of a long and busy day. Today my baths are less about escapism, and more about mental clarity and physical healing.
The ritual is not all that different. I still love the sound of the water rushing, the sight of the steam, and the aromas of the chosen bubbles du jour. I still bring a book, though I don’t often read there. I still enjoy a glass of wine, and I still enjoy music quietly playing in the background. Add a candle or two, and the marble-tiled room becomes my private sanctuary.
I recently came across an article in Breathe, about the healing powers of the bath. Who knew that something so readily available to most of us, could effectively and inexpensively help so many of our daily, common ailments? Read on to see how your bath might help manage some of your everyday aches and pains.
Baths to detox and cleanse
Hot water opens pores allowing the skin to release toxins through sweat resulting in fresher and clearer skin. Adding Epsom salts to your bath can further help the detoxification process. Epsom salts contain naturally occuring magnesium and sulfates which also aids muscle, joint and pain.
Baths to manage headaches
Once the body and mind begin to relax serotonin is released (a mood enhancing hormone) as are the body’s endorphins (pain-relieving hormone.) Add a drop or two of a lavender aromatherapy oil to further aid in relaxation. (Read on below for aromatherapy baths)
Baths to lower blood pressure and improve circulation
Warm baths causes blood vessels to dilate which help reduce blood pressure and migraine severity. A capful of your favorite bath foam will further the sense of relaxation.
Baths to calm muscle pain
Sea or epsom salts added to hot bath water will help loosen tight muscles and ease joint pain. Some bath foams, such as Dr Teal’s contain sea salt as part of their active ingredients and are available in several aromatic, aromatherapeutic scents.
Baths to soothe irritated skin
Try adding some baking soda to your bath. This acts as a mild antiseptic and can soothe and calm itchy, irritated skin. Baking Soda also leaves skin feeling smoother and softer.
Baths to reduce cold symptoms
Nasal passages and congestion are almost instantly cleared from steam. Add some eucalyptus oil to your bath and feel the congestion melt away!
Baths to alleviate insomnia
The body’s natural ability to relax, combined with the reduced brain activity and the drop in body temperature after a bath makes it a terrific drug-free sleep aid. Add some lavender to the water to further add to the relaxing vibe.
Add some aromatherapy oils to your bath and you’ve just raised the bar. Essential oils have all sorts of healing and soothing properties.
How to make a simple DIY bath oil
Combine 3 drops essential oil with 1 tablespoon carrier oil such as apricot kernel, avocado, grapeseed, jojoba, sesame or sweet almond. Add to warm bath water and swish to disperse.
Some essential oils to try:
Lavender essential oil bath
Lavender is often used to promote relaxation and balance, which allows for more restful sleep. Its stress-relieving properties make it an effective mood booster for some people. Lavender relieves pain and inflammation and can also be used to treat headaches and migraines.
Lemon essential oil bath
Lemon and other citrus essential oils have shown benefits for people when used in aromatherapy. Lemon essential oil has antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, astringent, and detoxifying properties that contribute to immune system function. Lemon and other citrus oils make your skin very sun-sensitive. Do not go out in the sun with these oils on your skin.
Eucalyptus essential oil bath
The crisp scent of eucalyptus is stronger and sharper than other oils. You may wish to use less of it or blend it with another oil such as:
Many people find this eucalyptus oil refreshing and stimulating. Inhaling the vapor can stimulate opening up your nasal passages similar to menthol or camphor (think Vicks Vaporub). Eucalyptus oil has also been used to relieve muscle and joint pain, and is often used as aromatherapy during massage.
Other popular essential oil bath choices include:
chamomile essential oil
frankincense essential oil
ylang ylang essential oil
citrus oils, such as grapefruit, lemon, and bergamot