Sure, a ten-minute shower will clean your body and wash the day off. But an hour-long soak in a bath can cleanse your mind, body and spirit if you do it right...
My husband knows the signal for when I've had a proper nightmare of a day. "I'm having a bath", I'll declare, before disappearing upstairs to turn on the water. An hour later, I'll emerge calmer, happier and certainly warmed and ready to sleep off any of the days' minor traumas.
I'll talk you through my set up before making some suggestions as to how best to enjoy what I call a 'fancy' bath. I start by running the water and trying to get the temperature just right, I add in epsom salts to help ease my tense neck muscles and a bit of Radox Muscle Soak or similar, because, well... bubbles. You need bubbles for it to work.
I then get a stool, place my laptop or iPad on it and cue up some semi-mindless reality TV show (I'm favouring Netflix's Shark Tank at the moment, the US Dragon's Den). I'll get a magazine (no prizes for guessing which one), some chocolate and an ice-cold drink (you get verrrrry warm when bathing for an hour) and then I'll cleanse my face and apply a face mask before stepping in. Years of perfecting the craft (ahem) of a perfect bath has lead me to form the below list of essential steps.
The fancy bath master plan
- Immediately put your mobile phone into a ziplock bag. You will be tempted to use it (I won't even bother telling you to be without it, because I can't and so that would be hypocritical) and this will avoid your bad day graduating to catastrophic.
- Get yourself either a waterproof bath pillow or, what I use, a folded up old towel, to support your neck and head. Particularly if you're going to be reading or watching crap telly.
- If you fancy it and have them to hand, mix in a few drops of essential oils to aid the relaxation. Lavender and rose are ones I particularly enjoy.
- If TV isn't going to relax you, bring in a mini speaker and put a chill playlist on, or listen to your favourite podcast. I'm loving Invisibilia at the moment, and find the co-presenters' voices to be terribly calming.
- Fancy baths aren't necessarily about being cleaned or scrubbed, but should you fancy it, pop a tub of your favourite exfoliator on the side and rub it on, leaving it to soak off over the course of the bath. I've been using the Frank Body Coffee Scrub (below) lately and it's delish (not literally, don't eat it).
- Light some candles. This step is vital, no amount of artificial lighting will do for your calmness levels what candlelight will. Remember to blow them out before you go to bed!
- Have a facecloth handy that has been either run under ice cold water or else in the fridge for a little while. If you feel yourself overheating, pop it on your forehead and it'll take your temperature down without requiring an early departure from your sanctuary.
- Get your towels ready and have them to hand, you want your exit from the bath to be as pain-free as your entrance.
- Close the door, tell anyone in earshot you're unavailable for 60 minutes, and finally... relax.