A relaxing, warming bath can help improve your health. After a long day spent in the (home) office, a soothing soak in the tub can ease tired muscles, help switch off an overworking mind, and present the opportunity to indulge in a little much-needed pampering. With many of us now in close proximity to our bathrooms most days, it has never been easier to run a quick bath before jumping into bed any given night. However, how do you make sure you have the most relaxing experience possible?
How hot should the water be?
We have all been there: you accidentally run either a steaming hot or tepid bath, only to hop out 10 minutes later a sweating or shivering mess. You want a temperature that, in the words of Goldilocks, is just right – aim for warm rather than outright hot.
Somewhere between the 32 to 35 degrees Celsius mark is ideal, nutritionist Suzi Grant wrote in her book 48 Hours to a Healthier Life. Dermatologists seem to agree that 38°C is the hottest end of the spectrum you ever want to hit.
If you do not have a thermometer to hand, you can still use the trick for babies’ baths on your own. Stick your elbow in the water for 10 seconds – if it feels like it is veering towards scorching as your skin acclimatizes, put the cold tap back on for another minute.
How full should your bathtub be?
This is completely down to how deep you like to be submerged, but a flooded bathroom does not exactly create the relaxing experience you are probably aiming for. Try to get the water level at about 65 to 70 per cent full – this should not overflow once you get in, but should cover you up to your neck in water, rather than leave cold knees poking out of the suds.
What should you put in your bath?
Personal preference will naturally dictate whether you are a bubble, bomb, salt or oil kind of bather. Our top tip is to comfort your head and neck using Lady McBath bathtub pillow for full relaxation.
What Else do you need?
If you cannot live without some bubbles, add a small capful to the water to ensure an even spread of foam. Many formulas contain potentially irritating fragrances or drying chemicals that may aggravate sensitive skin, so reign in your desire to pour in a generous glug.
Bath bombs can equally be rich in perfume and essential oils, as well as colouring and glitters that can stain your tub, but if you opt for a version with an emollient base, such as cocoa butter, you’ll get some skin-conditioning benefits.
What should you do in the bath?
First things first, leave your phone in another room – this is not the time to check your emails, take work calls or fall down the virtual rabbit hole of news headlines. To help your mind switch off, now is a great time to crack into that bestselling book you have always been too tired to open at bedtime.
You could also listen to a podcast, play some soothing music, or watch a little light entertainment on a laptop propped up on a suitable surface.
How long should you spend in the bath?
Although it is tempting to while away hours in the tub, if you take regular baths, you should limit the amount of time you spend in them.
Dr Jeffrey Fromowitz, a US dermatologist, says a “prolonged immersion in water supersaturates the skin and can lead to skin breakdown”. Fromowitz told news website Digg that wrinkled toes and fingers are actually a sign of vesicles, bubbles that have water trapped between two layers of skin – the epidermis and the dermis. If you were to take prolonged baths on a daily basis, you would be opening yourself up to an increased risk of infection.
You should bathe for up to 20 minutes.
What else do you need?
Take a glass of water or a refreshing drink into the bathroom to have on hand; a warm bath can sometimes make you sweat, so try not to become dehydrated.
Many find dimming the lights, or lighting a few candles, particularly soothing – just make sure you don’t have an open flame near any furniture or textiles that could catch fire, and don’t leave candles unattended.
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