How to rest during stressful times | Part 3: the art of bathing
Hydrotherapy has been practiced for centuries but the simple bath is often overlooked as a way to incorporate rest and regeneration into your life. Water can wash away much more than dirt. A simple bath can leave you feeling more emotionally balanced, less achy, ready to sleep deeply.
If you don’t already, it is time to make time to bathe. Yes, even the guys out there.
The benefits of a warm bath far outweigh the benefits of a warm shower in terms of its impact on: your muscles, nervous system, cardio-vascular system and digestive system. Put your phone on silent. Make this time as quiet, warm and safe as you can.
To enhance the benefits, there are a few bells and whistles you can add on.
Epsom salts soak
This is the absolute classic for relaxing sore muscles. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts (that you can buy at any pharmacy) to your bath as it is running. The idea is that the magnesium seeps into your skin, drawing out impurities, relaxing your muscles, and even easing constipation.
Not many people know that we have many large pores on our scalp and on the soles of our feet. This means that a good way to absorb herbal medicine is to brew a strong tea and pour it into the bath with us. It is also much more pleasant to pre-brew the tea versus sitting amongst floating twigs or pulling flower petals out of the drain plug.
A classic relaxing bath tea blend would be to brew a large strong tea of chamomile and lavender. If you want some extra lung and immune support during these strange times, you can brew some fresh rosemary and thyme. Fill up the bottom of the largest mason jar you have up to two fingers and then cover with boiling water. Make sure you put a lid on while it is brewing. Leave it to brew for 10 mins to 4 hours. Strain before adding it to your bath water.
Essential Oils soak
It is very easy to spruce up the medicinal value of a bath by adding a few drops of essential oils. But there are a few guidelines you need to be aware of.
> Do not add essential oils directly to the water
We all know that oil and water don’t mix. So if you pour essential oils directly into the bath the drops will just float around on top of the water. When they come in contact with your skin they’re essentially undiluted, which can sting and cause irritation. Ideally, you want to pre-mix about 10 drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil (almond oil, apricot, grapeseed or jojoba) and then add it to the water. This oil won’t mix into the water either but at least when it makes contact with your skin, the essential oils will be more dilute and therefore more gentle.
If you are feeling frustrated or overly sensitive, there is nothing more grounding than oiling your skin with the little blend you have made before you get into the bath. This will allow the oil to penetrate and nourish your nervous system.
N.B: be sure to give the bath a wipe down with some baking soda to absorb any excess oil afterwards to avoid slipping next time.
> Don’t add the oils until you are ready to get in the bath
If you drop the essential oil in while the water is running, the oils will evaporate and you will not get the benefit. You may also choose to apply the carrier oil mix directly to your skin before you get into the tub so you can benefit from absorbing the oils and enjoying their fragrance.
> Do not use essential oils if you are pregnant and avoid those that are known to irritate the skin
Essential Oils that are not safe for bathing include: nutmeg, peppermint, cinnamon, basil, lemongrass, oregano, thyme, clove, black pepper, and bay. I have seen first hand the burns that cinnamon essential oil can leave on skin. Please do not even attempt to dilute these. Instead, use any from the safe list below or combine them to meet a specific intention:
Grounding: Clary sage, vetiver
Energizing: Grapefruit, Rosemary
Mind clearing: Peppermint, Lemon
Skin soothing: Rose, geranium
Sexy: Ylang Ylang, Jasmine