Updated: 6 days ago
Now talk about *setting*a*mood*! I’ve always been a self-care kind of gal - hot showers, candles burning, music in the background, moisturizing lotion, face mask QUEEN. I live for that stuff. It’s maybe a slightly more recent discovery, in that I’ve actually allowed myself to do it more in the last couple of years after realizing its importance and severe contribution to my mental health, but it has quickly become part of my routine. If you can’t wine, dine, and romance yourself, no one else will ever be able to fill that void.
However, it wasn’t until being gifted one of the best, most practical, most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received, that I really was able to embrace my self-care time to the max. My beautiful roommate of six plus years, Samantha, in learning of my newfound fascination with baths, bestowed upon me a bath caddy for Christmas this past year - and I was so stunned and inspired when I opened the crisp, gold wrapping. It wasn’t just any bath caddy. It was made intricately of bamboo and sported a wine glass holder on one side, and a shallow tray on the other. In the middle was a slotted shelf with a retractable fabric support, for a book or an iPad or the like. Either side was easily adjustable to fit even the widest or most narrow of tubs. It was perfect.
I first felt inspired to allow myself bathtime when I was in the middle of a stressful period of my life, and one that lacked a severe amount of self-love and attention. I felt myself being pulled at all angles, unable to breathe, unable - to a certain extent - to think, and therefore, unable to truly be.
My roommates and I had moved into this new apartment in April of last year, and ever since seeing the gorgeous, deep, soaking bathtub with the glass doors and overhead shower that lay in our new bathroom, I knew it had to be used for baths. I hadn’t made a habit of taking baths before. I soak in my parents’ hot tub every now and then, or when it’s offered adjacent to a hotel pool. That’s pretty much the same thing, right? No. I assure you, it is not.
When I used to think about taking baths, I would recall joint baths with my brother growing up, as we played restaurant or grocery store (two of our favorite pastimes) with the floaty toys and bubbles. I would recall times when I felt terribly sick, or stuffed up, hoping the steam and hot water from a freshly drawn bath would flush any illness out of me. I would recall (a few) moments of being so incredibly sore after a dance class, or a long grueling day, and taking a quick bath with epsom salts to melt away any tension. But these were few and far between and only lasted, what felt like, a blink of an eye. They were for a purpose, a goal, a reason. To clean, to heal, to fix.
So I found myself in a new place - with a longing for relaxation, for care, for comfort. Not only a longing, but a need. I had the thought back in April when we moved, I finally fulfilled it (to some extent) a few times in the fall when I could find the time, but when my bathtime really started to take shape was after revealing my new caddy. My new friend. I will forever be grateful to Sam for awakening that in me.
My bathtimes now are no joke. And they have become a well-known tradition to my friends and loved ones. I talk about them often, and how they’ve changed me. I let the bath run for a while and fill with hot, hot water (we have a deep tub, remember). In the meantime, I prepare. I usually eat my dinner, or prep it during this time. I wrap myself in my big plush pink comfy robe and warm fuzzy socks. I light two (or three) spa-like scented candles and place them on either side of the volcanic water. I pour a glass of wine or beer or sparkling water or tea - whatever strikes my fancy that night, and I fill an entire water bottle with ice cold water to leave aside, because believe me, I will sweat it all out. I pick out an inspiring book or intriguing television show (or both) to read/watch from my iPad. I roll up a hand towel and use it as a pillow behind my head and a sweat rag to wipe my brow when needed. And for the finishing touches, I select a bath bomb or oil or bubble bar (or a combination) to add some personality to the bath - a scent, a color, a bit of a show. LUSH is my favorite for these, but I’ve used others - more on that later. And there you have it - the mood is set. Sometimes darning a face mask, sometimes not, I get in and I soak. I relax. I let myself breathe and be. I’m in there for usually an hour or two, and it is glorious, every single second. Sometimes I switch back and forth between reading and watching, sometimes I meditate or journal, sometimes I just listen to smooth jazz music. But no matter what it is, it is always exactly what I need in the moment.
Once I have reached true prune status and can no longer take the heat, I drain the tub, rinse off (with cold or hot water, depending on what my body needs), and moisturize. This is key. Detoxing the unnecessary, and then sealing in all the luscious goodness that remains. Building a new, fresh layer of skin - one that’s resilient, one that’s empathetic, one that’s born-again.
I know writing about how baths changed my life seems trivial. How, like pre-bath caddy me, you might be skeptical of how much power one tub of hot water can hold. But believe me, the transformation you feel, the serenity, the empowerment…it’s worth every drop. Self-care should be serious business, because you not only deserve it, you need it. Bathtime shouldn’t be reserved for just kids or once-in-a-blue-moon luxury hotel experiences. It shouldn’t only happen for a specific reason or purpose. You are the purpose. I encourage you not to look at bathtubs only as a way of cleaning, healing, or fixing your bodies, but as a way of cleaning, healing, and fixing your souls. You have a tub, use it!