WHY THERMAL SOAKING IS THE PERFECT RITUAL FOR MENTAL HEALTH & OVERALL WELLNESS
MANAGING COVID-19 STRESS
SELF CARE SERIES – PART 1
Thermal Soak: Ultimate self Care? Managing stress, anxiety and depression can be difficult, now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our daily lives. It can be difficult to remain calm with information and news about the spread of the virus so prevalent. The most recent Mental Health Index, released by Morneau Shepell, reported a significant decrease in the mental health score. A score that is typically only seen this negative is when people are experiencing major life disruptions and mental health risk. (1)
As COVID-19 escalates, it is expected that anxiety and mental health concerns will continue to worsen. Strategies that helped boost mood in the past, such as socializing with friends or hitting the gym, are restricted right now. Staying healthy and safe is priority, so that means finding ways to look after yourself in the comfort of your own home. Feeling over-stressed is not to be taken lightly and it might take a combination of strategies and support systems to manage our wellness.
Self care is one element to keeping your badass self in tip-top mental shape! It seems so simple and one that is easy to dismiss. Building self care into your daily routine can change your perspective and how you manage stress. When you’re feeling better emotionally and mentally, you are also better equipped to take care of others who need you.
This is Part 1 of the Blog’s Self Care series. Some self care options that can hopefully help reduce a negative mood during these unpredictable and stressful times.
SELF CARE TIP #1 SOAKING IN A HOT BATH (Thermal Soak)
Yes, it seems a bit too simple, doesn’t it? It is easy to forget that this self care technique can be a game changer when it comes to your health and well-being.
A good bath might be a little luxury now and then, but beyond some essential self-care, it actually has scientifically proven benefits for your mental health (2)
DO AS THE ROMANS DO
This universal way of healing has been present throughout the world for centuries. The bathing culture can be traced back to 710-1200 AD, to Buddist temples in India, serving as religious ceremonies. This filtered down to Japan and China in the forms of gatherings and healing bathhouses, called yūya, which meant “hot water shop.”
Roman ritual baths were part of the daily routine in Ancient Rome, using hot mineral water from cities to create sanctuaries and plunge pools for gathering and worship. Hot baths also served as therapy for psychiatric patients in Dutch communities. Patients were left to soak for prolonged periods of time to relax and keep them calm.
THERMAL SOAK – RESEARCH
There have been recent studies to support the theory that thermal baths help to reduce depression. One small German study reported that participants “felt better” after soaking in a hot bath for a half hour when compared to aerobic exercise.
To support the theory further, a Japanese randomized study compared the health effects of its participants between taking a hot bath versus a hot shower. Results showed that bathing considerably lowered anxiety, stress levels and muscle pains.
So why is something so simple as taking a hot bath have such a positive impact on our health? There are some definite obvious benefits, like temporarily “unplugging” yourself from your technology. But there is more to it than that.
THERMAL SOAK – MIND AND BODY CONNECTION
Research has shown that raising your body temperature can alleviate anxiety and boost your mood. Changing body temperature can help stimulate the body back to ‘happy mood.’ De-stress baths cause your heart rate to slow down to a normal rate, helping you relax and clear your mind. It is important to give your mind a ‘break’ every so often or it can be detrimental to your mental health.
IMPROVED SLEEP = IMPROVED MOOD
A lack of sleep or insomnia has subsequent cascading effects on many serious health problems, including depression, hallucinations and paranoia. One study confirmed that insomnia doubled your chances of developing depression. (3)
Research has shown that having a thermal bath close to bedtime helps people sleep better. Improved sleep is one beneficial way to handle a low mood. Our bodies are controlled by our circadian rhythms and adapt to temperatures and body concentrations throughout the day. People with depression can sometimes struggle with an unbalanced circadian rhythm. A warm bath increases your body temperature, which is recognized for increasing body temperature, which in turn makes you sleepier. Your body also releases melatonin, a hormone that promotes restful sleep.
THERMAL SOAK – SOOTHE MUSCLE ACHES
Physical ailments are associated with depression and can have a negative impact on your wellbeing. A steamy bath is also the perfect way to mend tired, aching muscles and body pain. As your bath increases blood flow, even internal bruising will feel relief.
The health of our body is crucial for the health of our mind.
Make your bath a ritual. “I love me” ritual. Taking a nice hot bath a few times a week will help soothe your mind and body and you will notice a difference.
Here are some tips to creating the ideal ritual bath:
The magnesium sulphate in the salts are an effective remedy for lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety.
Adding the right essential oils to the water can really amp up your bath! Make sure your oils are organic and choose oils that won’t irritate your skin. Combine your essential oil of choice to a carrier oil (coconut or jojoba) before adding to your therapeutic soak so they will disperse throughout the bath.
- Citrus oils
Bubble baths aren’t just for kids! Add some organic bubble bath to your water. Add a few simple, natural ingredients and make your own bubble bath!
Simple DIY Bubble Bath Recipe
- ½ cup warm distilled water
- ½ cup liquid castile soap, a scent of your choice
- ¼ cup organic vegetable glycerin
- (optional) essential oils of your choice
Make sure you choose a time when you are least likely to be disturbed. I know this can be difficult but try to make free time for yourself… for a peaceful mindset.
Glass of Red optional.
Japanese study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6011066/
Please note I’m not a mental health professional. The information on this blog is for information only and suggestive in nature. Please contact your family physician or a medical health care provider with any medical or mental health concerns. Below are a few useful links.
Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mental Health Support, Ontario, Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness