Lisa Arm­strong makes the case for baths

Stressed, tired, achy? Draw a warm bath, add some oils, light some can­dles and drift away…

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Lisa Arm­strong

RE­MEM­BER WHEN BATHS were con­sid­ered in­fe­rior to the great Amer­i­can power shower?

You know what’s com­ing.

The bath is be­ing lauded again. Nat­u­rally this page has been rediscovering the joys and health ben­e­fits of baths for some time, es­pe­cially ones with mag­ne­sium in them. Ep­som salts are the bud­get ver­sion, while Ilapothe­cary’s Mag­ne­sium & Amethyst Deep Re­lax Bath Soak (£35 for 400ml, ilapothe­cary.com) is the bliss fac­tory.

The mus­cle, joint and sleep pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties of mag­ne­sium are well known. Other de­li­ciously so­porific – and scented – bath rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude Tem­ple Spa Drift Away (£25 for 100ml, vic­to­ri­a­health.com), Oliverum’s Bath Oil, which leave senses and skin much hap­pier (£29 for 125ml, lib­erty­lon­don.com), Weleda’s pow­er­ful Laven­der Bath Milk (£14.95 for 200ml, weleda.co.uk), and Suzanne Kauf­mann’s Or­ganic Bath Oil for the Senses, which is in a league of its own (£62 for 500ml, net-a-porter.com).

If you have trou­ble sleep­ing, rais­ing your body tem­per­a­ture in a hot bath be­fore go­ing to bed in a rel­a­tively cool room can nudge you to­wards slum­ber. Make the bath an oa­sis from the rest of your day. Ban your phone, or at least stop your­self from read­ing work emails on it. Lis­ten to your favourite mu­sic or pod­cast. Light can­dles – Tutti London’s come with dried roses on the top and will make you feel you’re wal­low­ing in the spa at Soho Farm­house (£48, vic­to­ri­a­health.com). Ide­ally, spend at least 20 min­utes soak­ing, top­ping up reg­u­larly to keep the tem­per­a­ture pleas­antly hot rather than scald­ing. Drink wa­ter, or any­thing else you fancy.

Since you can le­git­i­mately lock the door, baths are an ideal time for med­i­tat­ing, re­lax­ation apps and/or slow breath­ing: in for five, out for five, or, if that’s too much, in for two, out for two. The goal is even, deep res­pi­ra­tion to slow down your heart rate.

Or per­haps, sur­rounded as you will be by taps, this is the time to prac­tise tap­ping. It’s noth­ing to do with fauc­cets, but the col­lo­quial name for Emo­tional Free­dom Tech­nique, which sounds alarm­ingly touchy-feely, so let’s stick to tap­ping. For about six min­utes, use your fin­gers to tap gen­tly on the top of your head, above and along your eye­brows, in the in­den­ta­tion be­low the tip of your nose, and on your clav­i­cle. There are nine me­dian points in to­tal. While you’re do­ing this, talk aloud about what­ever is both­er­ing you. The clear­est how-to video is at thetap­ping­so­lu­tion. com. Ad­vo­cates say tap­ping com­bines el­e­ments of acu­pres­sure with Western psy­chol­ogy. It has a whiff of Cal­i­for­nian ‘wu wu’ about it – and yet, the more you re­peat your dilemma, the deeper you find your­self go­ing into it. There’s no short­age of tap­ping cyn­ics, who ar­gue that it’s just a placebo. Haven’t they read the lat­est re­search on how pow­er­ful place­bos can be? If not, may I rec­om­mend Cure: A Jour­ney into the Sci­ence of Mind over Body, by Jo Marchant. Ex­cel­lent bath-time read­ing.

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