As the week ends or nears, the pressures of work, relationships and personal goals can be overwhelming and stressful to your mind and body. The weight of the world feels as if it’s resting on your shoulders, back and brain. Some people thrive on this stress for success but for many, the combination of a tired body and brain can and will cause a built-up psychotic breakdown. How ever shall one deal with these problems quickly enough to regain composure?! Take a bath!
Research from Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that soaking in warm water daily for eight weeks is more effective at reducing stress than a prescription drug. From the second I slide into the warm water, I feel the weight leaving my body and soul as I float to the top. I prefer to take a bubble bath, one with lots of moisturizers for my skin, but researchers say bath oils containing lavender are likely to produce the best results in the tub. Psychologically positive mood changes were found after the bathing regimen for energetic arousal, tense arousal, hedonic-tone and anger-frustration (Morris, 2002). Also, negative perceptions/responses about one’s future were selectively reduced after the lavender oil baths. A hot bath also works as a muscle relaxer, cold inhibitor, mind-sharpener and sleep aid. The steam from the hot water opens nasal/sinus passages to soothe stuffiness and pressure and produces the pain-killing endorphins released with relaxation to sooth sore muscles. Transitioning from hot water to cold air produces melatonin, a sleep inducer, so it’s best to take your bath before a good night’s sleep.
As I soaked in my tub for the first time in three months last night, I realized how much I missed my relaxation ritual. I like to light lots of candles and keep all the lights off in the bathroom for a sensual feeling. After all, that bathtub is yours and only yours for 30 minutes to an hour, so why not feel comfortable in your skin?! Try putting on a soothing soundtrack, like my “Calm Meditation Radio” on Pandora, rather than the adrenaline-pumping music you might listen to at the gym. Close your eyes and let the sounds of the rainforest or crashing waves take you to your happy place, wherever that might be for you. Reflect on your past, present and future and know that you are in control.