Simply say the word “stress” to any woman, and stand back. The stories pour forth—high pressure at work, constant demands at home from relationships, children or elder care, no time for herself, a social schedule stretched to breaking and an ever-worsening set of physical symptoms resulting from the inescapable obligations of life. Not long ago, we would wait until something snapped, then turn to a doctor to fix it. Now health-conscious people are taking matters into their own hands, engaging in active stress management to prevent the myriad ailments known to be induced in part by excessive stress, including headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, and muscle pain
Scientific research and classical tradition bring us many ways to reduce or manage stress, including fitness classes, yoga and outdoor aerobic sports like skiing and biking. While a sound exercise routine can be a significant way to improve well-being, it can also be costly and time-consuming, requiring serious re-scheduling of your life and a long-term commitment for best results. What if you need serious temporary stress relief right now, at home, with a minimum of fuss?
Consider that time-honored therapy, the bath. Bathing is easy, and just about everyone has the equipment to do it—in fact, the ability to draw a tub of comfortably warm water is so common that people have grown to overlook water’s amazing ability to soothe body and soul, temporarily alleviate symptoms of stress, restore moisture to dry, flaky skin, loosen tense muscles, slow the heart rate and allow the mind to expand and relax. Bathing requires just 10-20 minutes, happens right at home, and is so simple that it can be a regular part of your health-maintenance routine. The benefits of the bath may seem small in the beginning but over time a bath routine can have profound results on your body and mind.
In addition to the benefits of immersion in warm water, baths can contain specific substances with known therapeutic benefits, such as salt, which detoxifies and revitalizes the skin. Essential oils may also be used, enhancing muscular and mental relaxation as well as skin hydration. By tailoring the therapeutic ingredients, baths can help to clear the mind, aid in toxin release, deliver minerals and nutrients to the skin, and bring harmony to the body and spirit.
Every life involves some stress, no matter how placid or hectic your schedule. And every person’s well-being is best maintained by keeping stress in check. For effective stress relief you’ll actually look forward to, don’t forget the power of bathing to restore your body and your mind to optimum levels of peace, balance and calm strength to better face your day.
Carolyn L. Bessette, M.D.