Creating a Bath Time Oasis to Relieve Stress

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

During normal circumstances stress can be a good quality in life, it builds character, physical endurance, and mental alertness. But as women, we have all had experiences where stress levels rise beyond “healthy”. Throughout history, cultures have been using water, varying water temperatures, essential oils and herbs, plants and fruit extracts to aid the body in reducing stress, as well as curing ailments. Many books and articles describe how the Romans, Greeks, and Turks of long ago practiced Hydrotherapy, the use of water for therapeutic bathing.

Restlessness, lack of energy, depression, insomnia, muscle tension, hair loss, and changes in temperament are all signs of chronic fatigue, brought on by repetitive stress. Mental, emotional, and physical relaxation are key preventative methods in relieving stress, all of these can be stimulated through the use of hydrotherapy. Water provides a way to breakdown tensions caused by stress through relaxation. Many times, the addition of Aromatherapy in the bath, breathing exercises, the use of light, and the sound of soft noise or soothing music can aid in relaxing women and relieving stress. The following are a few tips on creating a bath time Oasis to relieve stress:

  • Water Temperature plays a big role in creating a stress-soothing bath. How many times have you heard a woman say, “I’m going to lay back in a tub of cold water to relax”? See my point. Hot water, usually between 96 F and 102 F is ideal for soothing nerves, relaxing the muscles, increasing circulation and stimulating the immune system.

  • Breathing exercises are a form of meditation; create your own peaceful rhythmic breathing pattern, inhaling and exhaling slowly; releasing the tension from the muscles.

  • The use of lighting can effect a person’s mood as well. Darkness, low and soft lighting, for example, candlelight, can increase the secretion of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced in a tiny gland known as the pineal gland. In the evening, the pineal gland reacts to the diminishing levels of daylight and starts to produce melatonin, which is then released into the blood and flows through the body making us drowsy.
  • Music/Sound Therapy is the use of rhythm or sound to decrease stress. Experts point out that while in the mother’s womb, we all listened to the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat. The response to soft sound or soothing music in our adult life produces a safe, relaxing, and protective environment.

  • Aromatherapy is an important component in holistic approaches to ease symptoms and support the healing associated with the sense of smell, most often, using essential oils and other medicinal plant and fruit compounds. Essential oils added to bath water are a great way to use aromatherapy. The heat from the bath water helps the oil penetrate into the skin and bloodstream, as well as releasing the oil’s aromatic molecules for entry through the nose. Unlike other senses, molecules from something you smell actually come in contact with the brain through a person’s olfactory receptors. Because of this, Essential oils are known to influence the brain’s chemistry, hormone production, and stress levels. When using essential oils in the bath, it’s best to not use any type of soaps because they can hinder the oil’s absorption into the skin.

    Studies were conducted using different aromas in a group of depressed men, it was found that the smell of Lavender has a calming effect and boosts the brain’s production of Serotonin, while the smell of grapefruit stimulates the brain to produce natural painkillers called Enkephalins. There are approximately 40 different essential oils and many different types of herbal extracts used to reduce stress. Some of them are lavender, chamomile, hops, dandelio, grapefruit, burdock root, sage, eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger, basil, rosemary, and juniper. They are used for treating stress and stress-related ailments, for invigorating the body, and for promoting well being.

Many web sites offer recipes for healing baths using essential oils and herb extracts. But if you’re like me, when you’re stressed out and in need of a calming bath; you probably don’t have any Frankincense lying around, so what can we use from our local grocery store to make us feel stress free? Here are a few great options:
  • Milk and Lemon Soak- Add 1 quart of whole milk and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to a very warm bath.

  • Tea Bag Bath- Pop a couple of herbal tea bags to your bath water

  • Vanilla Bath- Add 1 cup of baby oil and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, mix and add to your bath water

  • Wine Bath- Add 4 cups of red wine (cheapest you can find) to 1 cup of honey, mix well and add to your running bath water.

  • Citrus Bath- Add sliced oranges, grapefruits, and grapes to your bath.
Lot’s of women just prefer the “good old bubble bath” to using essential oils and home remedies when creating a great stress free bath. No matter what you choose for your bath time oasis; it’s the outcome, not the actual bath that you are striving to perfect.