Friday, October 17, 2014

Cheaper Than Therapy

I'm not sure how "normal" it is, but I take a bath almost every night. After getting home from work it is usually the first thing I want to do besides raid the refrigerator for anything that resembles sugar, cheese or carbohydrates.  My love for "salt baths" began in college after an eccentric and wise homeopathic doctor once recommended that I soak my face in warmed salt water every evening. (Though it's significant to note that I also blame my angel mom who says she would stick me in the bathtub whenever I was upset because it was the only thing that would calm me down. Reason #5,467 which supports the theory that I was once a mermaid/sea lion/merman/fish/fisherman in a past life.) I followed his instructions and soon felt intuitively compelled to hop onto the bathroom sink and soak my feet as well. Because lifestyle clashes with roommates in the first year of college aren't awkward enough, I decided to compound the situation by being that roommate who was bizarrely perched on the bathroom sink every night soaking her feet next to a giant canister of sea salt. I am not sure though what annoyed them more - the fact that I was using our communal sink as a foot soak or that I was taking up the bathroom for an extra 10-15 minutes.

At any rate, I continued with these foot soaks off and on throughout my college years and when I first moved out of my parent's house after college where I resumed the ritual at my apartment. Soon though, only soaking my feet wasn't enough and I needed a full body salt soak. The benefits of salt baths (and just warm baths in general) are profuse. (As is often the case, I find that it is usually the most prosaic and simple habits that can improve our health: i.e, getting adequate sunlight, taking baths, stretching, walking, sleeping, eating real food in moderate to small amounts, etc.) Because of its unique chemical compounds, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths have been noted for their ability to both relax and calm the mind while soothing overworked muscles.
"Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy. Magnesium ions also relax and reduce irritability by lowering the effects of adrenaline. They create a relaxed feeling, improve sleep and concentration, and help muscles and nerves to function properly." Source
I usually go through about a  bag of Epsom salt a week, which can be easily found in most pharmacies. If I am out of Epsom salt I will sometimes use plain sea salt from the kitchen which works just as well since sea salts contain many minerals and nutrients that are beneficial for the skin. To my baths I add about 2 cups of Epsom salt along with a ½ cup of baking soda. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an excellent addition to baths because of its chemical properties which detoxify and alkalize the body by reducing acidity. Some other favorite additions to my baths include:
  • Essential oils (I use lavender, which smells heavenly, to unwind and black pepper to detox although I would not recommend mixing the two.) 
  • Aura Cacia Clearing Foam Bath (Ok, it’s for kids, so what? Stuff is amazing.)  
  • Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (the good acid which cleanses and clears the skin by regulating pH levels otherwise known as the acid/alkaline balance as aforementioned) 
  • Lush bath bombs! They are fun, colorful and smell incredible.
  • A great book which I do not literally add to my bath, obviously, but to my bath ritual along with a favorite candle or music. 
So, to answer Mindy's question as posed above, yes. Yes, everyone is probably hanging out without me as I linger lazily in the tub, losing gravity and examining my toes in the milky-oily liquid, but sometimes I am OK with that. Sometimes alone time is the best way to improve the most important relationship you will ever have in your life: your relationship with yourself.

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