“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
Sylvie hit the nail on the head! A hot bath is a powerful healer.
When life gets you down… when you aren’t feeling well… when you need help catching some serious Zzz…
Baths are there for you!
It’s not exactly magic (although I will admit to using the word ‘magical’ on many occasions to describe the power of a hot bath). But baths offer up some serious health benefits.
If you’ve had a long day, are feeling down or exhausted, can’t kick a cold, have sore muscles, need a little extra self-love or just want to relax, a hot bath may very well be the answer.
Grab your bath bombs, light those candles, play some chill music and get ready for a ton of goodness. These benefits of baths are too good to pass up. Bonus points if you bring a good book into the tub with you. 😉
Before We Get Started
Baths are wonderful (we’ll talk a ton more about why in a minute). But we have the power to make them even better!
I made you a FREE E-Book full of my favourite self-care recipes to make next time you spoil yourself to a bath. We’ve got face masks, bath bombs, oil melts, milk baths and more. Relaxation at it’s finest!
Download your free copy of the Bath Recipes E-Book by filling out the form below:
Pour your hot water, put together your favourite recipe and put those feet up. You deserve it!
Now, let’s get back to the health benefits of baths…
Are Baths Making a Comeback?!
So I was hanging out with the Readers Digest, as one does, when I saw an article about baths that shocked me. Apparently they’re “making a heroic comeback.”
Why was I shocked? Certainly not because they told me that baths are coming back. But because this has to mean that they somehow left in the first place. It’s like Justin Timberlake circa 2006 all over again! I’m still not sure where sexy went. And now I need to wonder what happened to baths too?!
If you broke up with baths, you might want to consider jumping on this comeback train. It’s basically impossible to leave one without feeling relaxed and refreshed. And we could all use a little more of that sometimes.
And, of course, there are tons of health benefits to be had. Let’s take a look shall we? (Nerd alert! ^^)
8 Super Health Benefits of Baths
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that hot baths are cool but scorching baths can actually cause some harm. So make sure to keep that water at a reasonable temperature.
Turn the dial up to scalding and you’re risking heat stress, which means that your body can’t cool itself down. This puts extra strain on your heart. If the water’s too hot, add a little cold in to even it out. We’re not trying to boil you!
And if you have a heart or blood pressure disorder, talk to your doctor before indulging in a hot bath. Certain health conditions make it so baths aren’t a healthy options. Just because something can be healthy doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for all of us. We’re all wonderfully unique – what works best for each of us differs a little from person to person!
Now – since we’ve got through our little disclaimer, let’s take a peek into the goodness of baths. We’ve got some mental and physical health benefits waiting for us. Are you as excited to learn about the benefits of baths as I am?
1. Elevate Your Mood and Boost Relaxation
So maybe this fact isn’t surprising at all. I think it’s safe to say that we all link baths with relaxation. But it’s still neat, so this nerd is addressing it anyway! 😉
According to a study from the University of Wolverhampton, taking a hot bath at the end of the day provides a pretty stellar boost in mood and optimism! Something about the wonderful mix of laying down alone in comfort and warmth. (source)
Psychologist Dr. Neil Morris, who worked on the study, had this to say:
“I found that bathing improved general psychological wellness radically. There was a significant drop in feelings of pessimism about the future and increases in hedonic tone, the internal feeling of pleasurability. And I believe that the results could be even more impressive over a longer period of time. Baths give you the chance to stop the day for a few minutes, in a way that showers can’t. There is a wonderful combination of isolation, quiet and comfort.” (source)
Take that showers. Baths win this round!
2. Reduce Stress
One of the lovely benefits of baths is that they provide us with this wonderful physical comfort. And they also give us the opportunity to connect with ourselves (at least when we enjoy them solo).
It’s creates a little moment of mindfulness. Bathing allows you to simply be present in the moment. It allows you to pay attention to what’s happening inside of your body and your mind and/or bring your awareness to the world around you. But, most importantly, when you practice mindfulness you have the chance to work on being present and aware without criticism or judgment.
Mindfulness is so cool, right? But what are the benefits?
- Reduces Anxiety and Stress
- Improves Focus and Concentration
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Increases Empathy and Compassion
According to Jessie Violet Larson, a medical massage therapist with UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine in Pittsburgh:
“When you’re in a bath you can’t really do anything else, and it forces you to clear your mind and be calm. Bath time can be a really great exercise for mind, body, and spirit, renewing your energy.” (source)
And migraine surgeon Dr. Mark Khorsandi shares more specifics on how baths reduce stress:
“Stress causes the muscles of the body to contract. A hot bath can relieve those symptoms and keep the muscles loose.” (source)
Basically, when we relax physically we often relax mentally. Win win!
3. Improve Sleep
Missing out on your daily Zzz can have a serious affect on your health. We’re talking:
- Poor memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Bad mood
- Increased risk of depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other health issues
Which is why it’s so important that we work with our doctors when needed and do our best to form an awesome sleep routine (source). Sleep is serious business friends!
And baths can help!
About two hours before your typically go to sleep your body temperature starts to drop. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal and plays an important role in preparing your body for sleep. We can use this to our advantage and get the ball rolling with a hot bath!
The hot water causes your temperatures to rise one or two degrees and when you get out they drop down fast. Or, if you choose to soak until the water cools, your temperature slowly drops down. Pruney fingers are just a sign that you’ll be well rested! (I may do this often…) (source)
Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine recommends baths for a good night sleep:
“If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep.” Showers don’t work quite as well. But they can still help if baths aren’t your thing. (source)
But it’s important to know that timing is key!
If you want to really cash in on this benefit of a hot bath aim to take one about an hour or two before bed.
4. Relieve Muscle Pain
Now, if you’ve put your muscles through a serious work out a cold bath might be a better option. (It pains me to say this, I’m not a fan of being cold!) When lactic acid buildup (something that can happen when we workout) is the true cause of our pain, cold is our friend.
Cold water will constrict blood vessels and help to push out that lactic acid. This helps to ease pain and lets the body recover faster. (source)
However, I will admit that you could never pay me to take a cold bath. See, self-care needs to be right for you. Even I don’t do everything! 😉
5. Ease Cold Symptoms Like Congestion and Cough
Getting sick super sucks! That awful feeling when you’re all congested, your face is pounding and you’ve got a serious cough is just no fun.
Baths can’t exactly destroy those cold symptoms. But they can help!
How do baths help? Steam therapy yo!
On top of that, keeping yourself warm when you’re suffering from a viral infection can actually be pretty helpful. This study shows that elevating your body temperature helps with certain immune functions. Your warm, relaxed body can kick more virus booty!
Of course, be careful and check your temperature. If you have a fever a hot bath isn’t a good idea. We don’t want to elevate an already elevated body temperature.
6. Might Reduce Inflammation and Control Blood Sugar
So this may sound a little weird, but According to this research on the health benefits of baths, immersing yourself in hot water for a little while might help to reduce inflammation and control blood sugar… just as much as a gentle exercise session. Totally bonkers, right?
Does that mean that a hot bath replaces exercise? Definitely not! I mean, moving your beautiful body is so important for so many reasons (we can talk more about the benefits of exercise here). But this is still a pretty awesome bonus to a nice soak in the tub, right?
And this news is pretty wonderful for people who aren’t able to do much exercise due to physical limitations. While these benefits are limited, they still provide a nice little boost.
7. Can Help Manage Chronic Pain
Arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular pain and more can all potentially be soothed by a hot bath. Especially when you add salt. And I’m not just talking fancy bath salts (which are totally fine). Table salt can work wonders as well. (source)
Salt baths can help to reduce joint pain.
Adding salt to your bath can help to inhibit and lower swelling and ease pain! This study discovered the potential promise. It’s not a magic cure, but it can provide some relief and help with pain management. (source)
Dr. Vincent Compan, who worked on the study, has this to say on the findings:
“This research opens up exciting opportunities for the use of hypertonic solution as a treatment for inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis. What we’ve identified has the potential to be used to help so many patients.” (source)
8. Opportunity For Self-Love
How often do you get to hang out in our birthday suit with your lovely self? Baths provide this awesome opportunity to appreciate your amazing body and be kind to yourself.
Many of us have a bad habit of talking down to our beautiful bodies when we take in their full glory. A bath is a fantastic time to work against that and silence your inner mean girl.
Think of your bath as a one on one date with yourself. Make it super relaxing. Light candles, put on some gentle music and grab your favourite bath or skin care products.
Spoil yourself. Be kind to yourself. Speak kindly to yourself. And think about how awesome the amazing biological masterpiece you live in is. I mean, it keeps you alive. It lets you do everything you love to do. And man does it ever look good doing it.
How cool is that? We don’t think about it often enough. And bath time is as good a time as any to appreciate the skin we’re in and work on self-love. Don’t you agree?
Baths might not work miracles. But they certainly do offer up a ton of goodness. The best part – these wonderful health benefits of baths are pretty easy to tap into. And, personally, I can’t think of any better way to relax and wind down mindfully before bed. What do you think?
Now it’s your turn – are you team bath or team shower? What benefits of baths surprised you the most? Anything awesome you’d like to add to the list? Share your lovely thoughts with us in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: Sometimes the quietest comforts have the most powerful impacts.
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