There is nothing more wonderful than a bath, yet surveys show that over the years we Brits have fallen out of love with them. Although most of us own a bath, a third of us take one just four times a year. Four times a year!
But bathing is about to have something of a renaissance thanks to a new and much-needed wellness movement.
Gone are those vivid purple bath crystals, that hard tablet of salt you once crumbled into the water, and all those harshly scented bubble baths the colour of boiled sweets.
In their place is the new power bath — a health-boosting, science-backed soak in a tub brimming with carefully curated natural ingredients.
A third of Britons have fallen out of love with baths – only taking around four a year (file photo)
Hailed for its rejuvenating powers by A-list celebrities including Emma Watson and Cara Delevingne, the power bath can be tailored to the precise needs of the bather, using potent home-made recipes to improve sleep, stimulate the immune system, boost circulation or ease muscle aches.
Indeed, the list of health benefits goes further. According to a new book called Bathe, by beauty and health expert Suzanne Duckett, editor of the Tatler Spa Guide, a hot bath spiked with relaxing oils, mineral-heavy salts and detoxifying muds can soothe skin conditions, improve heart health, calm inflammation and even balance menopausal hormone levels.
Although baths have been used since ancient times for their healing and revitalising properties, the pressures of modern life mean we have spurned the long soak for the quick hop in and out of the shower.
Cleopatra is said to have preserved her beauty by bathing in the milk of 700 lactating donkeys, while Winston Churchill apparently insisted on two hot baths a day to de-stress from the pressures of being a wartime leader. Today, our daily morning cleanse takes an average of eight minutes.
The power bath — a relaxing, solitary, self-indulgent soak — demands up to half an hour. It’s not only a health-booster but an ideal antidote to the daily bombardment of noise, chatter and rush, a point in the day when you can simply shut the door on the world and be on your own.
Hailed for its rejuvenating powers by A-list celebrities including Emma Watson and Cara Delevingne, the power bath can be tailored to the precise needs of the bather
Here, in an exclusive extract from Suzanne’s book, find out why you should switch off the shower — and how to pick the perfect power bath for you!
POWER BATHS: WHY THEY WORK WONDERS
- Studies have shown that bathing significantly lowers blood pressure. For those with high BP, this is important and will reduce the risk of having a stroke, as well as improving vision and boosting kidney health.
- A warm bath will make your heart work faster, giving it a healthy workout and improving circulation. It also increases sweating, which helps to eliminate toxins, viruses and bacteria from the body.
- Bathing raises the temperature of sore muscles, blocking pain receptors and producing pain relief. A cold bath after exercise lowers levels of lactic acid, enabling speedy muscle recovery.
- Bathing reduces stress and anxiety and can boost mood. A study at the University of Wolverhampton found that a daily bath, usually at the end of the day, significantly improved mood and optimism.
- The best way to reduce inflammation and dry out mucus in the nasal passages and throat when you have a cough or a cold is to clear them with steam. A 2011 study also found that elevated body temperature can help elements of the immune system to function more efficiently, warding off infections and viruses.
- A good night’s sleep is associated with everything from weight control to better immunity and pain recovery, and a bath before bed has long been known to help people drift off.
- Moving in water has been shown to lessen impact on joints, muscles and bones.
TAKE THE TEMPERATURE
First, get the temperature right. Aim for your water to be between 36c and 38c. The room temperature is also important — 25c to 30c is about right.
Potent home-made recipes can be used to improve sleep, stimulate the immune system, boost circulation or ease muscle aches
If necessary, heat the room beforehand to avoid putting your body under unnecessary stress if there is a big temperature difference when you get out.
Try this simple breathing exercise next time you take a dip — it has natural tranquillising effects which gain in power with repetition and practice.
First, take a normal breath and exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound. Do this by placing the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your front top teeth; purse your lips slightly and exhale through your mouth around your tongue.
Now close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, to a count of eight.
Repeat this whole cycle three more times.
SOAK AWAY SOLITUDE
Have you ever referred to someone as being ‘warm’ or giving you ‘the cold shoulder’? Many of us use physical terms when describing people. We take these literal terms and use them in an abstract, psychological sense.
Being warm is central to our early lives. Babies are cuddled and kissed, held, washed and attended to, and this facilitates bonding and connectedness. Some of the areas in the brain that register physical temperature are also sensitive to emotions such as rejection and loneliness.
One study at Yale University in the U.S. showed that having a bath could make you feel less lonely. Researchers asked a group of 400 volunteers, aged 18 to 65, to keep a diary of their bathing habits and note down how they were feeling before and after their bath. The results revealed that baths ward off feelings of isolation, and indicate that many of us take warm baths to consciously eliminate feelings of being alone.
The greater our feelings of loneliness, the longer we stay in the bath and the hotter we like the temperature. Scientists concluded that the association between warmth and comfort is hardwired in our brains in infancy, which is why we seek comfort in hot drinks and soup.
So the next time your feel companionless and low, just hop in a tub.
Adapted from Bathe: The Art Of Finding Rest, Relaxation And Rejuvenation In A Busy World, by Suzanne Duckett, published by Blink on October 18 at £16.99. © Suzanne Duckett 2018.
To order a copy for £13.59 (offer valid to 9/10/18) visit www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15.