I have been taking baths since I was a baby and unlike most people who transition to a shower as a teen, I kept enjoying that warm soaking bath. One Valentine’s Day my husband surprised me when I came home to a candle lit house, Barry White playing through the speakers, the fireplace burning, and a rose petal trail leading to a big bubble bath – he knows me well. To me there’s nothing quite like a warm bath to relax your mind and relieve stress. A bath should also leave your skin touchably soft.
Water or hydro therapy can be traced to about 4500 BC to the areas that are now Egypt, Iraq and Iran. Immersing the body in water is medically proven to be relaxing, therapeutic and a complement to a healthy lifestyle. The deep muscle relaxation associated with a good hot bath helps to reduce cramps, tension headaches and improves muscle elasticity. The process is similar to a massage and beneficial for everyone from athletes to those who sit at a desk all day. It has even been said that taking a bath takes you back to a time when you were in the womb thus creating a comforting and relaxing environment. So, next time you have a stressful day draw a bath and use the tips below from Josie Feria, Director of Spa at Lapis, The Spa at Fontainebleau to create the ultimate soaking experience.
BATH SALTS– Tough workout? Bath salts are like external muscle relaxants. If you have soreness, pain or swelling, bath salts reduce inflammation and stiffness, and help detoxify skin and increase circulation which helps to ease tension and revitalize the body. (MyScoop loves Thistle Farms out of Nashville, TN found at Whole Foods Market.)
BUBBLES– It just feels good to sink your body into a sea of bubbles. Choose a scent like lavender, aloe, or peppermint to aid in relaxation.
USE SCENTED BATH OIL– Choose scented bath oil; floral scents like lavender, jasmine, iris and rose are associated with relaxation and can help to ease you into a relaxing state quicker. Add oils to the tub when the bath is halfway full, this will help them disperse evenly throughout the water.
BATH TEMPERATURE– A warm bath is best for relaxing the body. Ideal water temperature for a warm bath is 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use your wrist, not your hand to test the water since your wrist is a better gauge of how the water will feel once your entire body is submerged.
BODY SCRUB– Most people are used to being active all the time, so when they get in the tub their minds start racing and they become unable to relax. Gently massaging your body with a sponge and body scrub will help engage your mind as the scrub buffs away dryness and leaves your skin supple and moist.
CLOSING YOUR EYES– It is important to close your eyes during the bath to enter deep relaxation, so anything that forces you to keep your eyes closed is a great. Try cold cucumbers, an icy compress or eye pads which have been soaked in chilled chamomile tea.
CANDLES– Bright bathroom lights tell your body its go-time, not bath time. Instead, light a few candles and place them around the room and on the edge of the tub. (MyScoop loves Paddywax candles, my favorite scents are Tobacco+Patchouli and Eucalyptus + Cottonwood)
COLD WATER– If you’ve set your water temp right (somewhere between steamy and very warm), you should be feeling quite toasty in the tub. A warm bath raises your body’s core temperature, so you’ll start sweating. Before getting into the tub, set a bowl of ice water and a washcloth next to you and use it as a cold compress on your forehead or the nape of your neck to help keep you refreshed throughout the bath time. I also grab a tall bottle of San Pellegrino and force myself to drink the whole thing to hydrate.
BATH ROBE/ TURKISH TOWELS – Nothing jolts you out of a Zen state like going from a warm, luxe bath to a measly, threadbare robe or old dingy towel. Get a plush terry cloth robe or fluffy Turkish towels that allow you to feel warm and comfortable.
RELAX AFTERWARDS– Leave the smart phone alone for an hour or so and just enjoy time for yourself. Get a glass of tea and read or listen to music. Want more coziness? Heat a towel in the microwave and wrap around your neck and take a deep and well-earned nap.
MUSIC– Play relaxing music to sooth your mood and aid in the process of relaxation. Visualization is also a great tool to enhance relaxation in the bath. Complimented by music visualization exercises can transport you to your own private Nirvana. Caribbean beaches anyone?
Bath Secret #1: Got a cold? The perfect bath will help! Taking a bath is a powerful way to treat cold symptoms. If you have a runny nose, a bad cough or tired, aching muscles, taking a bath can help you feel better. Sprinkle some Epsom salts for your sinuses and cough, Epsom salts are also known to soothe aching muscles.
Bath Secret #2: If you use the right ingredients, bathing makes you look younger.
It’s true – Epsom salts can take years off your appearance by helping your body defend against climate and UV exposure, genetics, and other elements that speed up the aging process. Not only that, Epsom salts can help your skin repair and restore its youthful smoothness on a cellular level by diminishing signs of aging such as fine lines and uneven skin tone.
Bath Secret #3: Keep that curtain or door closed. After you step into your bath, either partially or completely close the curtain or door. This not only seals in heat (so water takes longer to cool), but it keeps in all that fragrant steam. The steam will open and cleanse the pores in your skin, giving you a youthful, healthy glow.