baths and mental health

Life can be hard sometimes. There are the daily stresses of work, family, friends, rambunctious pets, a commute, and simply days where you wake up feeling off-balance. How do you go about finding a release for all of these pent-up feelings and anxious thoughts?

Something you can do to treat yourself is to find time for a relaxing daily bath.

Since even before the pandemic forced us all into quarantine for our own safety, I’ve been a staunch proponent of taking daily baths.

As someone who has struggled with clinical depression for his entire life, I’ve noticed a clear link between my long baths and an improved mood, mindset, and relaxed demeanor going into the late evening.

My mental health has vastly improved since taking this type of time for myself every day to let the day’s and world’s problems escape my skin and my muscles and my brain and just allowing myself to be present in a single, comfortable moment.

There is an obvious relationship between mental health and baths and the various reasons for this connection span multiple layers of experience.

Warm Temperatures Help You Relax

Your body is always looking to maintain a constant, comfortable temperature in order to regulate body functions. Because of this regulation, any sharp spikes up or down in temperature to your body cause a physiological reaction to correct these spikes. Whether it’s shivering to warm up or sweating to evaporate heat away from your body, this process can be useful in building toward relaxation.

Sitting in a warm bath is an excellent option for rapidly heating your body. A nice, steamy bath feels absolutely incredible as you lower your body into it slowly. Feeling the warm water wrap your limbs and body is a wonderful release.

When you’re finally ready to emerge from the bath and wrap yourself in a big comfy towel, your body is focused entirely on cooling your body temperature down rapidly. This process uses a lot of energy. Expending all of that energy helps your body relax.

Adding Essential Oils

While I’m not advocating that essential oils cure terminal illnesses or act as a replacement for modern medicine, I am a huge champion for them in everyday usage.

Adding a drop or two of certain essential oils like lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, Lemongrass, and many others help clear your sinuses, promote relaxation, soothe your skin, and help you sleep better.

The only caution about adding essential oils to bath water is that you should be careful about which oils and how much of them you add. Essential oils are extremely potent, so please reference research or packaging to understand if a carrier oil is needed. If you feel your skin start to itch/burn, maybe drain the tub and refill.

Typically, I stick to chamomile and lavender in my baths and it has helped my skin greatly. I can be prone to prickly heat and eczema, so the moisturizing and skin healing properties of these two oils has definitely helped maintain a better complexion and assisted with my sometimes dry skin.

Time To Yourself

Finding time out in your busy day to focus on yourself is easier said than done. In this modern world, we all have responsibilities. Whether it’s caring for your children, your loved ones, your friends, your pets, your plans, doing a good job at work, or keeping the house clean, there’s always more work to be done.

However, it’s vastly important to take time away from your daily stressors to be alone with your thoughts. It’s super beneficial to lay back into some hot, soapy bath water and let your mind drift to more serene places. 

Be present and be aware of yourself, your place, and your surroundings in these moments. Too often we’re distracted by everything we don’t have or everything we don’t do or haven’t done or need to do. 

How often do you find time to really appreciate where you are and the preciousness of life?

To me, lying back in hot water surrounded by bubbles is a perfect place to express some gratitude for the beauty of life.

Pain Reduction

Just like hot compresses bringing relief to soreness, a hot bath can do the same thing.

With the addition of some epsom salts to create a hypertonic solution in your bath water, the tub can be converted into a great place for healing sore joints and muscles.

If you’re older or prone to aches and pains, maybe consider some long baths with epsom salts to try and ease your body and your pain level before attempting to sleep or after strenuous physical activity.

Boosting circulation, depressurizing joints, reducing swelling and inflammation, and promoting immune system function are just some of the benefits of epsom salt bath soaks.

The nice part is that, with some stretching after the bath, you can even prolong this pain relief and looseness when you’re out of the water itself.

It’s a great, natural way to help your body heal and ease tension. This reduction in pain and tension improves both your quality of life as well as your mental state.

Helping You Sleep

Sleep is vitally important to maintaining balance in your brain and helping you wake up fresh to start the day, in light of challenges.

Many people do not get enough sleep and baths are a great way to help induce sleep more easily.

As noted above with the effects of rapid temperature changes as well as the use of essential oils, sleep can be greatly influenced by a daily bath. Even the relatively short amount of time you spend in the water relaxing has a noted benefit on the way you’ll sleep at night.

By soothing, warming, and relaxing your mind and body for a defined period of time to help unwind, you’re creating a situation where sleep can come quickly.