Taking a bath may be a basic part of your day, but for some people, it’s a necessary ritual—and one that has some big-time therapeutic benefits. “Generally speaking, baths promote wellness on many levels,” says The Allison Inn & Spa spa director Tara Calton. “They help with relaxation/stress reduction, better sleep cycles, balancing hormones, dry skin relief, stabilizing blood pressure and relief of muscle/joint pain.” Here are some tips to get the most out of it.
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Begin With Dry Brushing
This is a really simple product that you can add to your bathroom arsenal for a few dollars. “Select a body brush with natural bristles (such as boar bristle or tampico) and brush the entire body starting at the feet,” suggests Rancho Valencia’s spa and fitness director, Kristi Dickinson. “Work in a circular motion always in the direction of the heart. This will stimulate your circulation and allow for better detoxification and nutrient absorption.”
Get The Temperature Just Right
Think “warm” when it comes to temp (water that is too hot will dry your skin). London’s Bulgari Spa, Bulgari Hotel, spa director Shelley Hepburn says between 96 degrees and 102 degrees is ideal for soothing nerves, relaxing the muscles, increasing circulation and stimulating the immune system.
Be In Tune
Calton’s main piece of advice: Be in tune with what your body needs and do what feels right to you. “It’s different for everyone, for each unique experience as well as the benefits,” she says. “To some, taking an Epsom salt bath is just what you need to relieve sore muscles and to sleep well. For others, it may be a lukewarm milk bath with some essential oils to relax the mind. You’ll also find a handful of men and women who feel that the Chinese and Romans had it right from the beginning with plunge pools, rotating from hot and cold soaks. This type of water therapy has been used for thousands of years and is used to stimulate blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and even numbing the nerves around joints.”
Dim The Lights
According to Hepburn, darkness, low and soft lighting (like candlelight) can increase the secretion of the hormone melatonin. “Music/sound therapy is another way to decrease stress. Experts point out that while in the mother’s womb, we all listened to the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat,” she adds.
Did you know you body can actually absorb certain nutrients better in heat and water? “Various seaweeds are fantastic for moisturizing, detoxifying and improving skin elasticity,” Dickinson says. “Brittany sea salts and Himalayan salts are rich in trace minerals and provide tremendous re-mineralizing effects. A few drops of essential oil in the bath is also highly recommended as they are liposoluable and act as catalysts in the rapid penetration of the molecules (mineral salts and trace elements) into the dermis. They also have a natural antiseptic property.”
And Incorporate Essential Oils
“Aromatherapy is an important component in holistic approaches to ease symptoms and support the healing associated with the sense of smell, most often, using essential oils and other medicinal plant and fruit compounds,” Hepburn says. “Essential oils added to bath water are a great way to use aromatherapy. The heat from the bath water helps the oil penetrate into the skin and bloodstream, as well as releasing the oil’s aromatic molecules for entry through the nose. Unlike other senses, molecules from something you smell actually come in contact with the brain through a person’s olfactory receptors.”
Apply A Body Oil Post-Bath
“Oil protects the skin’s lipid barrier and prevents moisture from evaporating from the skin,” Dickinson says.
Bonus Tip: Do This To Sleep Better
After a bath and before bed, add a few drops of essential oils to a cotton swab and place on your pillow. “Essential oils can have an influence on the emotional body. You will wake feeling completely balanced and nourished,” Dickinson says. “Lavender and calendula are great for calming. Rose oil has the highest spiritual frequency of all essential oils so it activates the crown chakra and enhances insight and transformation. Frankincense and sandalwood activate the pituitary and pineal glands so they are great for meditation and contemplation. Those would be my top essential oils for sleep.”
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