People who know me well know that I absolutely love traveling! From hiking in the Rockies to floating on the Dead Sea, I’m a real travel nut. But if you were to ask me where my favorite place to go to for a mental and physical detox is, my answer is always the same: Japan.
Historically called the “land of the rising sun”, Japan is home to some of the healthiest foods in the world. While the cuisine is fresh and delicious, the best part of any trip to Japan are the hot springs. Hot springs are essentially places where hot water flows out of the ground. Japanese hot springs are world renowned for their ability to increase your blood flow, circulation, and metabolism.
Of course, it takes time and money to go to Japan. But what if I told you that you could have your very own “hot spring” in the comfort of your home?
One more question. When was the last time you took a bath?
Perhaps you’ve told yourself “I don’t have time to for baths.” But in a way, that’s like saying you’re not worth your own time. If that’s not enough to persuade you to fit a bath into your weekly routine, here’s some of the science behind what a hot bath will do for you.
What a Bath Does For Your Body
Your skin is your first form of protection from the elements. Every day, it works actively to filter out toxins, regulate your body’s temperature, and create vitamin D for bone support. One of your body’s own detox functions is to sweat. By sweating, the skin expels harmful toxins from the body. But if you’re like me, even after a workout, I find that I barely sweat. Some people just genetically do not produce as much sweat as others.
To make up for this, I make sure to take a weekly hot soak. The heat of the water encourages the sweat glands to work harder. Even better than sweating, a nice hot bath will draw these toxins out and cleanse them from the body.
While it may not look like it to you, your skin is a porous surface. In the same way that it sweats to expel toxins, it also takes in nutrients. This is why a nutrient-filled bath is a great way to give your body the boost it needs. Although a plain hot water bath feels great, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried bathing with some of these natural sources of anxiety relief.
Epsom salts get their name from a town in England where these mineral salts are harvested. These salts have been used for centuries to treat muscle aches, cleanse the skin, relieve foot conditions, and even treat insomnia. Epsom salts get their healing properties from two health-boosting compounds: magnesium and sulfate.
Magnesium is important for our health. Among many other functions, it regulates enzymes all throughout the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Every organ in the body, especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys, needs magnesium.”
The sulfate component of Epsom salts also plays a major role in detoxing the body. Sulfates encourage the absorption of nutrients and flush toxins out. They are also used to build joints, skin and nervous tissue throughout your body.
When placed in water, Epsom salts separate into these two compounds and then gets absorbed into the skin. Collectively, these two ingredients relieve your body’s tension and allow you to relax.
Lavender Essential Oil
Speaking of relaxing, at the top of any list of natural ways to relieve anxiety and fall asleep is this essential oil. One of the most popularly used oils in aromatherapy, lavender oil, is recognized for its healing properties. I like to add it to my homemade cleaning products, rub it on my temples for headaches, and apply it topically to treat burns. This is a great, effortless way to receive the benefits of lavender oil.
Studies have found that lavender is just as effective at treating anxiety as some of the most popular pharmaceuticals. By adding lavender essential oil to your bath, you are able to relax your muscles and de-stress. One study looked at the effects of lavender oil in hot baths on 80 women. It was noted that the participants experienced positive mood changes. When asked, participants in one sample felt like they had a more optimistic outlook for the future. Who knew a bath could do that?
If you’re adding lavender oil, take care to let people know you’re heading into the bath. On occasion, the lavender essential oil was so calming that I’d wake up an hour after dipping in!
Added Bonus: Bentonite clay
Like Epsom salts, Bentonite clay gets its name from where it’s harvested: Fort Benton, Wyoming. As a result of its strong negative charge when soaked, bentonite clay draws out toxins from deep within your body. Make sure you don’t let bentonite clay come in contact with anything made of metal as it will lose its effectiveness. Even when a small amount is added to this recipe, you’ll notice that the clay swells open like a sponge. Bentonite clay amplifies the detox powers of all the other ingredients in this de-stress bath.
And there you have it, these are the key ingredients in the perfect anti-anxiety bath. As your largest organ, it makes sense to treat it to the best. Here is just one of my favorite recipes for a lavender bath that targets anxiety and stress.
De-Stress Lavender Bath
2 cups Epsom salt
1 cup Baking soda
1 tablespoon bentonite clay
20 drops of lavender essential oil
Note: Make sure to keep a bottle or two of water handy! Although you’re soaking in water, you’ll find that it doesn’t take very long to get dehydrated in a hot bath.
Fill a bathtub full of water as hot as you can tolerate (it will cool over time).
Mix the salt, baking soda, and clay together well.
Add the lavender oil to this mixture and stir with your hands to combine.
Pour the mixture into the bathtub and enjoy your bath for 15 minutes to 1 hour!
When it comes to cleansing and de-stressing, a shower doesn’t quite cut it. Treat yourself to a lavender bath today and just let your anxieties wash away!