How Taking a Bath Could Improve Your Health

Connie Queline

How Taking a Bath Could Improve Your Health

Ice baths and cold plunges might be all the rage these days, but don’t sleep on taking a bath that’s hot: According to experts and research, a long, hot soak in the tub can have plenty of health benefits too.

“The mind and body are intrinsically linked, constantly exchanging information, and responding to one another as we move through the world,” says Sarah St John, energy healer and founder of Grey Wolfe. “Our emotions affect our bodies, and our bodies affect our emotions. One way to face and release those negative energies from our bodies is with healing ritual baths.”

Here’s why a long, hot soak may be just what the doctor ordered.

Taking a bath can reduce stress and anxiety.

Irregular fluctuations in circadian rhythm—the daily biological changes that affect our body and brain and tell us when it’s time to wake up and when to sleep —often occur in people suffering from depression and anxiety. Changes in these rhythms also mean changes in core body temperature. Bathing, as well as being a relaxing ritual in itself, is a great way to raise body temperature and in turn kick start the body’s circadian rhythm to get it back on a more regular footing.

A study, conducted by the University of Freiburg, found this to be the case when they assessed 45 people with diagnosed depression. “Floating in the bath can also replicate the feeling of being in the womb, making you feel safe and comforted,” says St John. If you’re constantly feeling in a state of stress, your cortisol levels are likely to be elevated. As well as causing disruptions to your sleep patterns, too much cortisol can negatively affect everything from skin and digestion to a dysgulated nervous system. “Most of us feel so relieved after emerging from a nice, long bath, because it naturally lowers our cortisol levels,” adds St John. “Cortisol is the so-called stress hormone, so when there’s less in our system, we feel more at ease.”

Taking a bath can increase feelings of happiness.

In addition to lowering cortisol, a warm bath can calm the nervous system by encouraging the body to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, which contribute to feelings of contentment and wellbeing. “Your skin releases endorphins in response to the soothing warm water the same way that endorphins are released when you feel the sun on your skin,” adds St John.

Bathing is also believed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping you to feel calmer and more relaxed. One study even reported that two baths a week were enough to produce a moderate but persistent mood lift, a result that’s comparable to physical exercise.

Taking a bath can soothe inflammation.

As well as a relaxing moment for your mind, a bath is a full-body heat treatment that can help with a number of physical ailments. A hot bath causes blood vessels to expand which increases blood flow to your muscles, helping them to relax, while the heat of the water is also important for increasing the flexibility of collagen fibers, which helps reduce stiffness that often comes after exercise and improves mobility. Boosted blood flow can also support better heart health as it reduces blood viscosity, which enables better movement around the body.

Taking a bath could improve lung function.

The impact of a warm bath isn’t limited to sore muscles or aching limbs, it can also improve lung function, so is a particularly good habit for asthmatics or anyone with a chronic lung disease to get into. An improvement in blood flow means that oxygen is able to flow more freely through the body, helping to improve lung capacity and helping us to breathe deeply and more easily. It can also be a great remedy for a cold. “The steam produced in a warm bath can lessen the icky symptoms you have when you catch a cold,” adds St John. “It frees up your nasal passages and helps clear the chest and sinuses.”

Taking a bath can support immunity.

An increase in body temperature is a vital tool in helping the body fight off infection. Recent studies have shown that just bathing for 20 to 30 minutes is enough to produce more infection-fighting white blood cells, which are a crucial part of the body’s immune defence. Adding natural germ-fighting essential oils can further boost your bath’s potency; eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint are all anti-bacterial and will scent your water beautifully too.


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