How to Have the Best Bath Ever
Bubbles, candles, and Enya. Deep relaxation. Ahhhh, bath time is beautiful.
Or, if you’re like me, it’s beautiful for the first five minutes, and then you start to get bored or the water gets cold or you start to think just a little bit too hard about how you’re basically making a soup of all the dirt that was on your body before you got in.
It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea of sitting in a tub of hot water—I’m a shower person by instinct and inclination. But I’ve recently discovered that having a bath actually has a lot of health benefits.
Like, did you know bathing can help ease muscle pain? That a hot bath before bed will help you sleep better? What about the fact that baths can reduce cold symptoms? Or the new research saying that a hot bath burns as many calories as going for a run?
Yeah, that last one convinced me too. So we’re giving baths another try. And if we’re going to do that, let’s really, really give it a try, with the best bath possible. I’m talkin’ highest level relaxation, highest level health benefits.
But how do you have the perfect, top of the line bath? Let’s dive in.
Set the Scene
A lot of the work of having a great bath happens before you ever turn on the water. It’s so important to set the mood of your bathtime adventure.
Start by giving yourself permission to have a relaxing time. We all lead such crazy busy lives, running around like the proverbial headless chickens. It’s important to take the time to slow down and relax. But this can be a real challenge, and it’s easy to end up like me, tapping your fingernails on the side of the tub, restless and ill at ease.
Don’t do that! Remember that this is important self care, and that your body needs this as much as it needs going for a run, or eating a salad. Take the time for yourself.
Next! What’s a bath without candles? Overly bright, that’s what. Turn off those overheads and invest in tea lights. The more the better. Surround the tub with them, and bask in the golden glow. Feel those worries melting away? Absolutely. If you don’t trust yourself with open flame, those little electronic votives have developed a seriously realistic flicker function.
What about music? It’s the perfect way to set a mood and really turn your bathroom into a tiny spa. You’ve got lots of options for what kind of music you use: have a look at Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube playlists, and you’ll find lots of options for what people think of as perfect bath music. We love classical music, Al Green, Brian Eno, Enya, Aphex Twin, and Stevie Wonder.
And let’s not forget the toys. There are so many optional add-ins for the bath: consider a glass of wine, a favourite book (one that you don’t mind splashing). Make sure you have fluffy towels and bathrobes at the ready for when you get out. And have you considered a bath pillow? Because they exist, they’re waterproof, and they eliminate the crick in your neck you get from resting your head on the side of the tub.
Pick the Best Water Temperature
A friend once described her bathwater temperature strategy like this: “I make the water as hot as I can stand. Then I make it a little hotter. And then a little hotter than that. Then I just get in and pretend I’m a lobster.”
I was very impressed by her ability to withstand that much heat, but it turns out she may not have been giving her body what it needed from the bathwater. High heat causes your blood vessels to dilate, which lowers your blood pressure. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but depending on how much your blood pressure drops, the heart may try to compensate by pumping the blood harder. This can put a strain on a diseased heart, but even in a healthy person this can lead to lightheadedness and dizziness.
But beyond not having water so hot that you scald yourself or make yourself dizzy, your bath temperature should be determined by what you want to get out of the soak. Got sore muscles? You’ll want a warm bath, which acts like a heat pack applied to your whole body. That heat blocks your pain sensors and provides pain relief.
If you’re an athletic person who just did a hardcore workout, you’re going to want a cooler bath, which will reduce the amount of lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles when you exercise and causes cramping and pain. The cold water constricts your blood vessels and drains the lactic acid out of those muscles. If, however, you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s a warm bath before bed that helps. Our bodies cool down as we head towards sleep, which starts the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals our bodies to wind down. If you artificially raise your body temperature about two hours before you go to bed, the steeper drop off as you cool down will put you into a deeper sleep.
Pick Your Products
Half the fun of a bath is all the extra things you get to add to really maximize the relaxation and make your bathroom smell amazing.
Let’s start with essential oils. We love essential oils any time, any way we can get them, but baths are great because the heat of the water really activates the scents and you can create your own little steam room. You’ll want to pick the oil whose scent you love, and whose health benefits you crave.
Women’s Health magazine interviewed Joel Schlessinger, M.D., board-certified dermatologist about his favorite products for the bath. When it came to essential oils, “The stress-soothing benefits are unlimited and change based upon which oil you use. Rosemary increases circulation and lifts spirits, peppermint has anti-inflammatory benefits and can relieve PMS symptoms, eucalyptus relieves muscle and joint pain and is soothing for a cold, ylang ylang fights depression, and any citrus offers antioxidant properties.” You also can’t go wrong with lavender, the ultimate relaxation tool. But don’t dump your whole bottle of oil in; five to eight drops in your bath is plenty. Otherwise you run the risk of irritating your skin.
Have you ever tried putting baking soda in a bath? It may sound kooky, but give it a shot. Baking soda is a common ingredient in many bath bombs and other products, and for good reason. It is a natural exfoliator that helps remove dead skin and keep your knees, feet, and elbows soft.
Speaking of exfoliant, how about a nice sugar scrub? You can buy them at most drug and health stores, or make your own at home. It’s easy: combine one cup of your preferred sugar with about a quarter cup of your favorite oil, and then drop some essential oils into the mix. We love citrus, peppermint, or cucumber essential oils for this purpose.
Anther perennial favorite of bath lovers is Epsom salts. The funny thing about Epsom salts is they’re actually not salts at all; they’re a combination of magnesium and sulfate. Using them in your bath can help you reduce stress levels; ease muscle aches; and flush toxins from the body.
Of course, if you want to really feel the benefits of soaking in magnesium, you want Deep Soak. We took our EASE Magnesium spray and turned it into a soaking product you can add right to the bath. EASE goes to work in under 90 seconds that is absorbed through the skin, and as your muscles and joints soak up the magnesium, all your aches, pains, and tensions melt away.
The magnesium in EASE Deep Soak helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. It also lowers adrenaline, which means you’re less irritable. It improves sleep and concentration, and helps your muscles and nerves function at their peak levels. It’s the ultimate way to have the ultimate bath.
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