A warm bath can loosen tense muscles, alleviate muscle aches and joint pains, promote healthy circulation and provide an environment in which you can slow down and unwind. While immersing yourself in the bathtub is typically soothing, learn how to increase relaxation and reap the most benefits from a good soak after a tough day.
Adding Epsom salt to your bath may help increase your relaxation and rejuvenate you. Epsom salt is crystallized magnesium sulfate, a mineral compound that purportedly offers many health benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium promotes health and muscle function, regulates insulin levels and supports normal blood pressure. Magnesium sulfate is often used to treat migraine headaches as well. Fill your bathtub with warm water and add two cups of Epsom salt to it prior to bathing. If you have a large bath, such as a garden tub, increase the Epsom salt by one to two cups. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes so your skin can absorb the magnesium sulfate. The Epsom Salt Council recommends bathing two to three times a week with Epsom salt for maximum health and relaxation benefits.
Different essential oils have different effects when you apply them topically, consume them or inhale them, according to the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing and the Life Science Foundation. Certain essential oils, such as chamomile, rosemary and lavender, are known for their soothing properties. Any of these oils is an ideal addition to a relaxing bath, as you will both inhale the scent and absorb the oil into your skin. Pour five or six drops of oil into the full tub just before you enter. As essential oils are not water soluble, you should also add a dispersant to the water. Two to three tablespoons of whole milk in liquid or powdered form will disperse the oils and soothe your skin. Epsom salt works as a dispersant as well.
As a warm bath encourages you to lie back quietly, it is the perfect setting in which to perform some simple relaxation techniques. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Feel your stomach expand while your chest stays still. Hold the breath for several seconds. Exhale slowly and forcefully through your mouth. Other relaxation methods you can incorporate into your bath time include meditation or prayer; guided imagery; and progressive muscle relaxation, in which you contract then relax one muscle group at a time.