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Showering is all about the instantaneous — turn it on, jump in and jump out. A bath, though, requires us to slow down. We’ve got to run it, get the temperature just right, and then actually sit down and rest, suspended in warm water. It’s a great time to take a moment and reflect. Ideally, avoid bringing your phone in with you! If you need any further encouragement to make time for a soak, here are six very good reasons…

Fernando Botero, Donna Nella Vasca

It can improve wellbeing – immersing your body in warm water increases levels of serotonin. Although it’s widely known as the happy hormone, serotonin also plays a key role in the regulation of many bodily functions, including digestion, sleep, wound healing and sexual desire.

It can ease pain and calm the nervous system – the simple act of submerging the body in water can reduce pain and inflammation, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to lessen the production of stress hormones like cortisol and aldosterone. If you’re feeling anxious, taking a bath can actually get your body to change the way in which it processes that anxiety.

Gordon Parks, 1963

It’s good for your brain – while increased circulation is beneficial for our muscles and joints, supplying them with fresh blood and oxygen, studies have shown that being immersed up to your neck in warm to hot water can also improve blood flow to the brain, boosting cognition and memory.

It can help you sleep better – taking a bath 1-2 hours before bed has been shown to support deeper, restorative sleep. Research demonstrates that fluctuations in internal body temperature work to balance the body’s circadian system, the 24-hour cycle that regulates physical, mental and behavioural functions like sleep, metabolism, and hormone production. So, when you get in and out of the bath water, you increase sleepiness at bedtime, promoting slow-wave and stage 4 deep sleep.

Space Apollo Bath, Japan

It can encourage mindfulness – a relaxing bath can help you tune into your body’s sensations. The mind might wonder at times, but we usually come back to different parts of the body as they start to unwind in the warm water. Adding a scented oil to your bathwater can further help to bring focus back to the physical body.

It can be good for heart health – taking a hot bath causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure and increasing the volume of blood pumped by the heart. This is because the gentle pressure of the bath water on the body temporarily increases the heart’s workload. A rise in heart rate improves what is known as the hemodynamic function, which essentially describes the efficiency of the heart and its ability to pump blood to all the organs in the body.

Ellen Auerbach