Throughout history, civilized societies have considered bathing to be integral to psychological, emotional, and physical well-being. Ancient civilizations used aromatherapy and bathing to soothe the spirit and relax the mind. Perfumed oils, scented baths, and massages were part of daily life for many ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Towns were often centered around communal baths. Ancient scholars extolled the virtues of scented baths, aromatic oil massages, and fragrant herbal waters.
With our current hectic lives, we are beginning to turn back to the bath as a path to relaxation and simple pleasure. With children, jobs, schools, schedules, cell phones, pagers, and all manner of technological innovations, the simpler pleasures are often forgotten. Yet, bathing for cleanliness is part of our daily life. Although often overlooked, a simple, calm, relaxing bath may be one of the easiest ways to give something back to ourselves. A soothing and scented bath can relax and recharge our bodies and our minds.
Here are some simple suggestions to make the most of your bathing experience.
Before you start ~
Toss your favorite towel in the dryer to warm while you run your water. Wrapping yourself in a warm towel after your bath can be an incredibly soothing experience.
Choose your music.
Feed your body with a simple snack or beverage.
Pick a book that will help settle your thoughts. Remember, this is your time. Not a time for textbooks and work notes. Renew your acquaintance with your favorite author or settle in with poetry or affirmations.
Set the mood with candles. As many or as few as you feel are right. If you’re reading, make sure you have enough light to read by. Place them all around the room, alone and in groupings. Use whatever you’d like, from votives to pillars.
Drawing the water ~
Choose your temperature. Make it warm enough to soothe, but never too hot. Remember, pregnant women, people with circulatory problems, and those with sensory impairments should avoid extremely hot baths.
Add your salts, oils, teas, or bubbles. Any oils will make the tub surfaces slippery. Use a mat and caution when getting in or out, or when standing in the tub.
As you bathe ~
After you’ve settled in, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take ten deep, slow breaths. Breathe in to a slow count of ten. Fill your senses with the warmth and scents around you. On each exhale, count slowly to ten. As you breathe out, consciously let go of the stressors of the day.
Cover your eyes with warm, damp tea bags. Not only does the warmth relax you, but the tannins in the tea shrink the puffy areas around your eyes and can lighten those dark circles.
Massage your body as you bathe, starting with your feet and working up, relaxing tired or strained muscles and easing tension as you go.
Take time. With as little as 10 minutes, you can regain your sense of purpose and restore balance to a hectic day. Don’t rush. This is your time. Precious, and all too rare, make it count.
After your bath ~
To re-energize and invigorate yourself for a return to the world outside, rinse quickly with a cool or cold shower. Add a salt or sugar scrub to bring a glow to your skin, and you’re ready for the world again.
If time and opportunity are there, invite your partner to join you. A simple relaxing bath for two gives you the opportunity to unwind and share a few moments in your hectic lives.
Repeat often, even daily.