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How To Take The Perfect Bath

bathroom plug

In a bid to take charge of our own wellbeing many of us have made a personal promise to try and disconnect from technology when possible. Trouble is, phones are often found perched next to us, whether it’s the desk, sofa, dinner table or bed, making it tough not to scroll idly through feeds. Bathrooms however, are proving to be gadget free sanctuaries, which may be the reason that bathing is undergoing a renaissance as more of us opt to sit in the tub, rather than take a shower.

A quick glance at Instagram reveals thousands of #bathart #bathing #bath hashtags. Here is where you’ll find images of tubs teaming with floating lemon slices and colourful petals. Candles and crystals adorn bath ledges and just out of shot will be layers of Egyptian cotton towels, twinkling apothecary bottles and a burgeoning jungle of rubber plants. These shots are inviting; they epitomise cosy and self-indulgent, and unlike complicated eyeliner trends or tricky yoga poses, they are pretty easy to recreate.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasingly, bathing has gained momentum because we’re obsessed with experiences rather than ‘things’. This, coupled with the rise of global wellness and the self-care movement means that the bathroom is no longer just a place to just to get clean, but rather a haven where we can linger until an arduous work day recedes into the world of unimportance. According to a 2018 study by the Innovation Group, J. Walter Thompson, the recent fixation on bathing represents a sea change. “Even five years ago, the bath might have been seen as a form of indulgence. Now it’s recognized as a form of therapy, a tool in maintaining a healthy mental outlook,” explains Lucie Greene, a trend forecaster. Bear the below in mind, and supercharging your soak has never been more rewarding…

Body brush first

It’s wise to prep your skin for optimal soaking by buffing with a dry body brush first. This with help to slough away dead skin cells but also helps to encourage lymph flow and enhance circulation. Try Temple Spa Give It The Brush Off, £16. Start brushing at the feet and work up the legs, using gentle, sweeping movements towards the heart.

Reach for non-toxic candles

Burning some scented candles indoors releases airborne particles that can be as damaging as outdoor pollution, disrupting the skin’s barrier function and increasing sensitivity. Reach for Neom Organics Treatment Candles, £30. Formulated with just essentials oils and pure vegetable wax, their delicate fragrance gently soothes the mind, body and soul without polluting your set up.

What to add…

Tailor your bath to your needs. Bath oils containing lavender, chamomile or frankincense hit the sweet spot for deep relaxation and can be found in Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil, £48, and Soapsmith Lavender Hill Bath Soak, £14. Better You Magnesium Oil Original Flakes, £9.95, are the perfect antidote to a strenuous gym session or fitness class as it eases tension in the muscles. While This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak, £22, is the perfect choice for those who tend to get restless during the night, thanks to ho wood and vetiver oil.

What to do…

This may sound obvious, but for some of us just ‘laying there’ isn’t as easy as it sounds especially if you struggle to mentally wind down after a busy day. Instead, reach for a book that you can get lost in. Once you start to feel relaxed, you can begin to close your eyes and meditate or practice taking long, slow and deep breathes. You’re not likely to feel fully zen until you’re totally unplugged, so don’t forget to leave your phone outside, after you’ve taken a snap of your spa like surroundings of course.

The perfect temperature is…

Anywhere between 37-39°C because it’s the ideal temperature for muscle relaxation, yet isn’t hot enough for you to sweat and lose too much water, which can cause dizziness once you stand up. Room temperature also matters. Don’t have it colder than 24°C, else you’ll stress the body once you depart from the bath.

How long should you stay in it?

The pleasure lies in the moment so linger until you feel calm, relaxed and ready to either fall into bed or curl up on the sofa.

Why This Technique Is The Best Medicine For New Mums

white musical notes on red

As a beauty and wellness editor, I get inundated with hundreds of press releases titled ‘next big wellness trend’. That’s usually when I start to sigh or eye roll. Because, while some new wellness trends are backed by scientific and profound evidence, others, such as ‘weight loss teas’ and the celebrity endorsed ‘vagina steam cleaning’ are not only ludicrous and a waste of time, worryingly, they can negatively impact our health.

There is one wellness trend however, that I will preach about at any given opportunity. The Alexander Technique. Although fairly under the radar its been tried and tested for over a hundred years, and as a new mum, AT has neatly helped me to ride out the overwhelming physical and psychological changes that constantly ripple through me whilst trying to navigate motherhood. Now relentlessly time-poor soul-soothing self-care rituals seem a distant memory, and when a glass of red wine isn’t always a viable option (like at 11 am in the morning) this healing practice has been my one true saving grace.

First some background. Founded by actor Frederick Matthias Alexander in the 1890s, he devised the technique after suffering from vocal problems. He realised that when reciting he would strain his vocal organs and after observing himself in mirrors, he noticed he pulled his head back and down, depressed his larynx, and also gasped for air when trying to speak. While this was the root of the problem, he realised it this was part of a bigger pattern of tension involving the whole of his body, that manifested itself at the mere thought of reciting. To heal, he had to re-educate both body and mind, to resist his instincts and learn new behaviour.

Whilst I’m no singer, I benefit so well from AT because I to have developed tension patterns since having my daughter. A career sitting at desk meant that my posture was out of shape to begin with, so being held hostage on the sofa breast-feeding for hours on end, to pacing up down the living room trying to rock her to sleep at 3 am has only served to amplify it. These repetitive and often at times uncomfortable movements not only cause me physical pain in my neck and back, but also bear down on my mood, making me feel foggy, weary and irritable.

AT teacher Brita Forsstrom explains why: ‘The underlying coordination and freedom of movement in the natural balance of the head, neck and back works as an integrating principle in everything we do. If we disturb this balance with excessive and inappropriate tension we interfere with the most efficient use of our bodies.’ AT works by restoring natural balance in body. ‘In essence what you learn is a form of ‘embodied mindfulness’. Being more aware of how we react to the demands of motherhood we can learn to prevent excessive muscular tension and also feel calmer and clearer in our minds,’ adds Forsstrom.

Since having my daughter I have two sessions 2-3 times a month with my veteran teacher Jean. Well into her seventies, she is a complete powerhouse and her healing hands have on more than one occasion worked miracles on my malfunctioning lower back. The first part of the 45-minute session always involves a few minutes learning how to sit down and stand up from a chair with Jean helping me to realise how my habitual reactions contribute to my bad posture and pain. It sounds easy and simplistic and yet getting to grips with ‘unlearning’ 20 plus years of slouching, overusing some muscles and neglecting others, takes time. This is followed by hands on guidance where I lay on a table and so that Jean can loosen all the tension in every single muscle, allowing my back to lengthen and chest to open, which is turn helps my breathing to regulate and my mind to slow.

I often leave an AT lesson, feeling not only taller, (thanks to my spine being lengthened) but as if the mountainous problems I had prior to the session have suddenly shrunk down to nothing. Sleep deprivation seems less torturous and I’m less anxious about work deadlines. I have total emotional and physical equilibrium, and I savour every second of it while it lasts.