Have you ever had one of those days? Work’s been horrible, (the commute home even worse!), your feet ache, and your head’s not far behind. At home, the house resembles a bomb site, the cat’s MIA and your 8 year old casually reminds you her school books need to be covered in contact paper by tomorrow….eeek!
Now imagine leaving these aches and worries behind you to sink into a soothing mini-sea of serenity; a place where you feel supremely calm, warm and nurtured – ahhhhhhh…
Well, head down the hallway and take the first door on the left – your humble bathtub is waiting! Yes, the bathtub. Taking a bath is not just for the kids and rubber ducks. With a little preparation, it’s easy to transform your very own bathroom into a private, healing haven, a million miles away from your everyday stressors.
We humans have been bathing for ages, both to keep clean and to relax, and it was often a communal affair. Now, with our busy lifestyles and advancements in plumping, most of us favour the option of a quick shower, not to mention washing in private!
Evenings are ideal for a good soak, and a bath makes a wonderful addition to a regular wind-down routine.
Here’s how to create a calming bathtub soak:
Set the scene.
Soft lighting and ambient music can create an atmosphere big on zen in even the smallest of bathrooms. Switch off the lights and use a few gorgeous candles instead. Decide if you want bathe in silence, or if you want a little background noise, arrange a soothing playlist. Experts say music of around 60 beats per minute mirrors a healthy resting heart rate, triggering the brain to synchronize heart beat with the musical beat.
Get the water temperature ‘just right’.
When a tense body slides into a warm bath, the hot water increases the body temperature, helping to unravel tight muscles and soothe grumpy joints. The perfect bath should feel pleasantly warm when you hop in, not uncomfortably hot. If you want to get technical about it, expert bathers recommend a temperature slightly lower than normal body temperature of 37C.
Plan to soak for 10-20 minutes, and remember you may need a hot water top-up to maintain the ideal temperature during your tub-time. Oh, and make the bath water nice and deep so you can submerge everything but your head!
Rev up the relaxation vibes by adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salts. The magnesium content in these salts helps relax muscles and may reduce inflammation.
Inhaling certain aromas sends a swift signal to the brain to relax too. Lavender, bergamot or frankincense essential oils are all well regarded for their relaxation-inducing properties. Add a few drops of your chosen oil to a room diffuser, or directly in the bathwater to reset your emotions to ‘chilled’.
While ensconced, take a few moments to tune into your breath. Simply observe the natural breath entering and exiting your nostrils. Notice the speed, depth and length of the breath. Notice any fragrance in the air around you, notice the temperature of the inhale, then the exhale. Identify where in the body you feel the breath – the belly, chest, throat? Be with your breathe for a few minutes, simply noticing what is.
When you’re ready to face the world outside of the bathroom, use your fluffiest towel to dry off, and hop into some comfy clothes or your pyjamas. If you’re not yet ready for bed, spend the rest of your evening enjoying quiet, gentle activities. Have a cup of herbal tea, read, or simply reflect on your watery experience.
Ever wondered what the best relaxation technique is for you? Take the ‘Calm Compass’ quiz to find out!