Originally published in Body Sense magazine, August/Winter 2005. Copyright 2005. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
A good soak in a warm bath is a wonderful wintertime ritual. Utilize some of Mother Nature's simplest gifts in the process, and you've got an "experience."
It really is hard to beat the relaxing, cathartic effects of lounging in a warm bath, where the mind can so easily find peace and calm. But add a handful of rose petals, several tablespoons of sea salts, or some sprigs of rosemary and see how the experience is enhanced. A sense of guilty pleasure will hopefully make way for the realization that you are entitled to these moments of indulgence, and all in the name of self-care.
The winter months can no doubt be harsh on our skin, regardless of our moisturizing regimens. But when done correctly (yes, there is a right way to bathe), a nice bath can not only hydrate your skin, but also your mind.
First, make sure your tub water is not too warm as that can further dehydrate your skin. Around 100 degrees Fahrenheit is where you want it. Secondly, don't skimp. If you're going to take the time for a bath, then do it right. Turn off the phone, turn on some soft music, and close the door to the day's problems. Finally, soak in your bath for a few minutes before adding any oil. This allows your skin to soften and absorb some moisture before the oil locks it in. When you do use oil, choose a good quality natural oil like almond or jojoba.
Now it's time to turn your bath into an experience, right in the comforts of your own home. Following are some suggestions how.Chamomile
-- Steep chamomile flowers in boiling water for 15 minutes (or brew two chamomile teabags), then pour the mixture into your bath. The flower's oil is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, and brings relief to a variety of skin disorders. Dorie Byers, author of Herbal Remedy Gardens, infuses 1#8260;4 cup dried German chamomile blossoms with 1#8260;4 cup dried lemon balm to create a bath made just for relaxing.Oatmeal
-- For soothing and rejuvenating the skin, put 3 tbsp. of oatmeal in a mesh bath bag and let the water flow through it. The addition of dried milk powder can make this a healing, milky treat.Orange
-- Twist some peels over your bath water as a way to warm and calm you this winter. Like all citrus fruit, the essential oil is held in the colorful peel of the orange, not the fruit. Roses
-- For a general sense of wellness, add slightly bruised rose petals to your warm bath for both a tactile and fragrant experience.Salt
-- Used in a variety of healing combinations, salt heals the skin and reduces the body's aches and pains. Dissolve 1 cup of Epsom salts in approximately 2 pints of boiling water and add to the tub.
Whether it be thyme, lavender, mint, or milk, there are hundreds of combinations for turning your winter bath into a peaceful, healing experience. Find out what best soothes your body and spirit, and enjoy. Karrie Osborn is contributing editor to Body Sense magazine.