Nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a wam bath on a cold night. Unless it's enjoying the soul-deep rejuvenation of a hot springs soak.
Soaking in a warm bath after a hard day’s work warms a cold body and soothes a tired mind.
More than just a way to keep our body clean, taking a bath has numerous physical benefits such as soothing tense muscles, easing pain from cramps, and increasing body temperature to promote sleep. Adding Dead Sea salts to bathwater will increase skin’s moisture content and reduce redness and inflammation caused by dry skin.
Bathing is good for our emotions as well—from easing stress to encouraging relaxation. According to a recent study from Yale University, a warm bath or shower may also compensate for social isolation. Researchers found that participants used the physical warmth of bathing to comfort themselves and ease their feelings of loneliness.
Soaking in the tub is a convenient and inexpensive way to ease physical pain, unwind, warm a cold body, or simply pamper yourself after a long day. It’s easy to create a spa-like experience at home for a fraction of the cost of going to a spa (see “Bathtub essentials” below).
If your muscles are tired and tense, Leslie D’Souza, ND, who practises in Oakville, Ontario, explains how a warm bath will help relax tired muscles: “The heat causes blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow within the muscles. Increased blood flow will help reduce any toxins or waste products that have accumulated within the muscle, which are usually responsible for the tired, achy feeling that we experience with muscle tension.”
Scheduling time to soak in a bath gives us personal, uninterrupted downtime, which is often difficult to find, especially during the holiday season. To truly relax, let the phone go to voicemail for 30 minutes, turn on your favourite music, grab some reading material, or simply close your eyes and enjoy the warmth of the water and the serenity of personal time.
If you don’t mind the company of others while you reap the benefits of soaking, there are several options to choose from, such as Japanese baths, hot tubs, and hot springs.
Public bathing has been practised in Japan for centuries. Most households did not have private baths in their homes until the 1970s, which meant frequent trips to the local bathhouse were necessary for personal hygiene. Today public bathing is commonly practised in Japan for a relaxing, rejuvenating social experience.
If a trip to Japan is on your travel wish list, you may want to add soaking in a Japanese-style public bath to your itinerary. There are two styles to choose from:
- sento—public, indoor bathhouses that use heated tap or well water and are located in urban cities and villages, and
- onsen—natural hot springs located indoors and outdoors near their natural source.
The après ski soak in a hot tub is a great way to soothe muscles and warm up after a day on the slopes. Hot tubs are also enjoyable in the warmer months, and provide the same physical and emotional benefits of a home bath, with the added plus of socializing with others in the tub.
Many local community centres also offer hot tub facilities for a soothing soak.
Relax and rejuvenate at one of western Canada’s natural hot springs. Take in a spectacular view while absorbing a host of minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, and sulphate.
To find a hot spring visit:
- Bathe in warm, comfortable water. Hot water can dry out your skin.
- Soak for no more than 20 minutes to avoid skin irritation.
- After bathing, protect the skin from dryness by applying a moisturizer while skin is still damp.
- Pat skin dry to lock in moisture.
- Wear shower shoes or flip-flops when walking around public bathing facilities to minimize the risk of fungal infections.
- Use eco-friendly, biodegradable cleaners to keep the tub clean and prevent harmful chemicals from leaching into bathwater.
Did you know?
A 2008 study found that mothers who bathed their infants in lavender-scented bath oil were more relaxed and had decreased levels of cortisol. As a bonus for the moms, the infants were also more relaxed, cried less, and slept more soundly.
Leslie D’Souza, ND, recommends these essential oils for their relaxing and energizing properties.
|Essential oil||Therapeutic values when added to the bath|
These accessories elevate tub time to “me” time.
|organic body oil||Add a few drops to the bath and emerge with moisturized skin.
Choose body oils that contain coconut, flax, or sunflower.
|essential oils||Keep a supply on hand to create a soothing, energizing, or clarifying bathing experience.|
|bath caddy||Use to prop up a book or magazine for easy reading or to hold a mug of herbal tea. Look for a caddy made of a renewable resource such as bamboo.|
|bath pillow||Support the neck and shoulders and increase relaxation. Look for pillows made from sustainable sources.|
|candles||Create a soothing atmosphere. Be sure to light 100 percent natural candles made from soy or beeswax to avoid toxic chemicals such as paraffin and lead in conventional candles.|