Does not constitute medical advice.
It’s National Stress Awareness Day, and what better way to relax than a self-care bath? Bathing in warm water that is around 40°C is known to reduce stress levels. It affects our body and mind and overall wellbeing, but it’s time to be knowledgeable about ways in which we can reduce anxiety and take back control of our everyday lives.
In Japan, it is a cultural and communal experience to bathe in natural springs where the hot water calms the nervous system, relieves intense pain, and even improves blood circulation. Whilst a hot spring isn’t readily available to many of us, you can still get these same benefits by soaking in a bath at the end of a stressful day.
A warm bath:
Stress causes our muscles to contract and tighten which can lead to pain over time. A hot bath can help to loosen and relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation within those muscles. The warm water stimulates blood flow to those muscles and joints that are stiff. It’s the ideal place to try gentle stretching that will aid your pain relief.
During your bath, why not try this 2 minute lower back, calves and hamstring stretch? Simply bend forward to comfortably touch your toes or your knees, keeping your head above the water and hold the position for a few moments. Alternatively, sit up and slowly twist your upper body to the right, back to facing forward, then twisting to the left. Remember to keep breathing throughout each position. These stretches will work the muscles in your back and your core which can tense up from being in a stationary position at our desks.
The heat and pressure of the water on your chest and lungs along with a faster heart rate can increase your lung capacity and oxygen intake. Any steam from the water also helps to clear your sinuses. This allows you take deep breaths which is one of the best ways to lower stress levels, as it sends your brain a message to calm down, untense and relax, the brain then relays this to your body.
BREATHING TIP: With the help of essential oils to help set the sensory mood, begin to take deep and slow breaths. With these breaths, make sure your stomach is rising and falling and not your shoulders and chest. Maintain a slow pace and focus on the sensation of the warm water and the aroma of the essential oils.
Helps protect your immune system
Stress can impact our health and in the long run can compromise our immune system. Within our immune system are lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells. There are two types of lymphocytes: B cells which produce antibodies against bacteria and viruses, and T cells which destroy any infected cells.
The warm water from a bath increases our internal temperature, encouraging our blood vessels to dilate leading to an increase in blood flow. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to move around the body promoting lymphocyte circulation and so help protect our immune system.
Why not try the Japanese Shinrin-Yoku experience?
Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese cultural de-stressing practice, which literally translates as ‘forest bathing’. However, no water is involved in this wonderfully sensual experience, only trees. The concept is to leave distractions at home, and simply be in the moment in nature and connect with your sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
Several studies1 have shown that forest bathing is effective at reducing stress, anxiety and even depression, and that Shinrin-Yoku is an effective stress management tool2 by helping to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Even if there isn’t a forest in your neighbourhood, seeking out a quiet leafy tree lined street route for your commute or a 10 minute walk will help provide similar benefits.
The founder of Glossier, Emily Weiss, recreated her own luxurious Shinrin-Yoku experience at home. By elevating her warm bath with Olverum Bath Oil, which she describes as smelling “like Japanese forest", she brings the forest to her.
Indeed, what better way to manage and reduce stress than with the Olverum bath range?
Bringing the spa (and the forest) to you by soothing aching muscles and unwinding to relieve stress with Olverum Bath Oil seems like a win win to us. Used on its own or in concert with Olverum Bath Salts, it gives your mind, body, and soul the deeply relaxing experience needed to reduce stress and restore your essential you.
1 Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review, by Margaret M. Hansen,* Reo Jones, and Kirsten Tocchini
2The physiological effects of Shinrin-Yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan, by Bum Jin Park, Yuko Tsunetsugu, Tamami Kasetani, Takahide Kagawa, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki