Lisa Armstrong makes the case for baths
Stressed, tired, achy? Draw a warm bath, add some oils, light some candles and drift away…
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.