Here's How to Take Better Baths

There's more to a relaxing soak than hot water and a glass of red.

In today's hectic world, it's easy to fall into the routine of showering, throwing on clothes, and running out the door. But slowing down and taking a bath every once in a while (either in the morning or evening) can benefit both your mental and physical health. "The power of a bath cannot be underestimated," says Tim Hollinger, co-founder of Bathing Culture. "There is a reason why, after bathing, you feel so good. Fundamentally, baths create the perfect conditions for our bodies and mind to repair and revitalize themselves."

lower body of woman soaking in bathtub
Getty / Aliaksandra Ivanova

Baths can reduce inflammation, ease tension, and soothe headaches, he adds. "Research shows that baths lower blood pressure and increase circulation and blood flow, which is great for keeping your heart and skin healthy. You can actually burn the same number of calories by taking an hour-long bath as you can a 30-minute walk," he says. Once you master the art of bathing, you'll never go back. Here, Hollinger shares how to take the best, most relaxing bath of your life.

Shower first.

This may seem redundant, but Hollinger swears by it. "While this may seem like an inconvenience, it will greatly enhance your bathing," he says. "A quick shower before a bath will allow you to focus solely on relaxation and rejuvenation instead of worry about getting all your nooks and crannies cleaned."

Temperature is key.

Hollinger says the ideal bath is right around 110 to 112 degrees. "A bath that is too hot can harm the outermost layer of skin, which can cause irritation, redness, and dryness," he explains.

Keep tech gadgets out of the bathroom.

"Bathing is one of the few times you can escape the noise of technology," he says. "A study from the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that even a phone that is shut off and in a drawer on the other side of the room can be so distracting that it can reduce memory and problem-solving skills. It's best to leave it out and enjoy the experience."

Bring nature inside.

Have you ever taken a private outdoor bath at a spa or resort? It's heavenly. If you haven't—and obviously that can't happen all of the time—Hollinger recommends adding plants to your bathroom that like humidity, such as peace lilies, Spanish moss, and succulents. "The most powerful bathing experiences I've had are the ones closest to nature," he says.

Add a soak.

"They make a big difference," Hollinger says. "Magnesium salt flakes are really great for physical relaxation. An Epsom salt soak also works wonders. The best soaks are blends of different types of mineral-rich salts." He doesn't, however, recommend bubble baths: "They're often harsh on the skin and don't biodegrade, which means it can mess up the natural waterways after it goes down the drain." Essential oils work, too, but you don't have to go out of your way to incorporate them into your bath routine. "Get a fistful of flowers from the garden and toss 'em in your bath," Hollinger says. "Or, peel and eat an orange in the tub and let a small amount of the juice dribble in for a nice smell. If you're sick, lavender and peppermint are amazing and help clear sinuses."

Set the mood.

Light incense and put on soft, relaxing music. "I even know people who bring crystals into the tub with them," Hollinger explains.

Keep water and snacks on hand.

"Drinking water is a must," he says. "Just like when you work out, it's important to stay hydrated while bathing. Drink an eight-ounce glass of water while the tub fills up, then a glass every twenty to thirty minutes while soaking, and one more glass after drying off. It's crucial to replenish the water lost from sweating in a hot bath." Snacking on cold, hydrating grapes is also a good idea, he says.

Get fidgety? Be prepared with light activities.

"Don't be afraid to get creative with your bathing environment," Hollinger says. "I know people who paint in the tub or pull tarot; I'll typically bring a book into the bathroom." You can even meditate in the tub, he adds: "I've found the bath to be a conducive environment to meditate in." If you want to try this, he recommends drawing a shallow bath or using a headrest. But whatever you decide to do, use your bath time as a haven to reset, rejuvenate, and clear your mind.

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