A couple of days ago, on January 8, I learned that it was National Bubble Bath Day. Yes, that’s a thing. And why shouldn’t it be? Baths have been one of my all-time favorite things since I was a baby—as evidenced by photos of me as a toddler in the tub accessorizing with flippers, goggles, and (yep) a rubber duckie. Along with swinging, reading, and sunbathing, I’ve pretty much always intuitively gravitated to a hot bath for instant relaxation. And I’m not the only one.
Baths have become symbols of self-pampering for a good reason: Not only do they induce that ahhh feeling that can be hard to come by outside of a spa or vacation, but there have actually been studies proving that baths can be good for your body and mind. Read on to find out all the reasons—both science and experienced-based—why you should absolutely be taking more baths.
They Literally Force You to Relax
We’re all smart phone-aholics these days, and I’m no exception. But when I’m in the tub, I’m at least forced to put my phone down for a minute. You’re also alone when you’re in the tub (at least, if you live in a Brooklyn shoebox with a tiny bathroom like I do). Alone time can be very hard to come by for a lot of us, and it should be valued for the treasure that it is. Whether or not you’re into meditation, sitting in the bath kind of naturally makes you slow down, take some deep breaths, and just pause—something that’s not exactly our normal mode of existence in 2018. Additionally, some believe that the warm water can release muscle tension and help with soreness, as long as you don’t make it too hot, which can be dehydrating and even dry out your skin. But if, like me, you just find that baths feel good, that’s pretty much reason enough.
They Burn Calories While You’re Not Even Moving
In possibly the best bath-related study ever, researchers at Loughborough University found that baths may help you burn calories. An hour-long soak raised body temperatures in study participants and resulted in burning about 140 calories—around the same amount as a half-hour walk. Additionally, evidence suggested that warm baths can help lower blood sugar and combat inflammation… by literally sitting there!
They’re the Easiest Way to Pamper Yourself at Home
Most of us don’t have hefty budgets allocated for spa days, facials, massages, or even regular manicures and pedicures (I know I do all my own nail-painting). But, for me, the next-best thing to a professional de-stressing experience, is a bath complete with bubbles, candles, possibly a glass of wine, a face mask, exfoliating scrub, and whatever other at-home goodies you care to involve in your decadent bath time. By the time I emerge from the steamy bathroom, I’m as relaxed as I would be leaving a massage table—and I don’t even have to go out into the cold and catch a subway ride home (which is a total relaxation buzzkill by anyone’s standards).
They Might Help Detox Your System
Bath-takers everywhere should know that using epsom salt may add health benefits to your bathing experience—but evidence is limited. Some believe that epsom salt, a.k.a. magnesium sulfate, when absorbed into the skin via a bath can relieve stress, help muscles recover, and aid with sleep and relaxation. Others write it off as a placebo effect. All I can say is that a few years ago, I did a 10-day detox in which I cut all processed foods, alcohol, sugar, dairy, flour, gluten, and all that other delicious-but-bad-for-you stuff from my diet. At the end of each day, I took an epsom salt “detox bath” to sweat out toxins, and whether it was the foods I was no longer eating or simply a placebo effect, it felt damn good.
They’re an Excellent Time to Catch up on Reading
If you’re all caught up on your meditation, self-reflection, and journaling, a bath can also be a wonderfully decadent way to unwind and entertain yourself. I have sped through many a chapter in a compelling book while re-upping on hot water every 20 minutes or so, and I’d be lying if I said I also hadn’t brought a stool into my bathroom and set up my laptop for an occasional couple-episode binge of “The Americans” or “House of Cards.” Next time you need a diversion while also helping your body relax to the max, I suggest you try it out.