While it’s fair to be suspicious of the commodification of self-care, I can’t deny the role that regular bubble baths play in helping me to manage my anxiety.
No, you can no more drown your stressors in the tub than run away from your problems, but I find that taking an hour or two a week to treat my senses and shut out the rest of the world for a bit helps me to relax and re-set in a way that I find difficult to do otherwise. Indeed, as I mentioned in my post about the more practical productivity tools that help me to manage my anxiety while being as productive as I can at the start of a year, promising myself the temporary respite that a hot bath provides – followed by a good night’s sleep – is one of the most effective methods I’ve found of “hacking” my psyche on the days that I am particularly struggling.
(Sidenote: I really wish that post had reached a wider audience than it did. I’m probably prouder of it than anything else I have written this year, and yet 50 times as many people read that stupid Forever Living review over the same time period.)
When I talk about shutting out the rest of the world for a bit, I really mean it. Like most of us with a blog or some kind of social media side hustle, I find it really easy to get sucked into my smartphone. It’s something that I’ve been working on, and I’m definitely better at switching off these days than I have been in the past – it’s been over a year since I’ve slept with it in the same room, which people always seem to be impressed by when they hear about it – but I’ve lost count of the number of times one last look at Twitter leaves me three hours deep into a media black hole and convinced that the world is about to end.
I can’t take my iPhone into the bath with me (believe me: I’ve tried, and there’s a reason my iPhone shows up as ‘Mitzie the Undrownable’ when the Bluetooth’s on) so that’s an hour during which nobody gets to call me or message me. If my phone’s nearby, I still get guilty if I don’t respond immediately, even when I’m in the middle of something. The combined effect of releasing myself from that stress and hot water on aching muscles is a bliss like no other.
What do I do without my phone? I light candles: warm cinnamon or caramel ones, or sugary-sweet confections that smell like apple pie or strawberry cream tea. I read books, proper printed pages and to hell with damp fingerprints on the page, or sometimes on my Kindle if I’m feeling adventurous. I exfoliate. I sip cold water, shiver-giggling as it dribbles down my chest, and sometimes I just daydream.
And yes, I have a soft spot for overpriced bath bombs that fizz with cotton candy and leave paper streamers in the bath. They’re cheaper than wine (and probably taste better too).
And then comes the best bit: the shiver as you pull yourself out of the lukewarm water followed by the sheer comfort that is wrapping yourself in a soft, fluffy towel, warm from the radiator. If it’s big enough, like the gigantic bath sheet in the bale of bamboo towels* I received recently from The Towel Shop, you can fashion yourself a little hooded robe and cosy up like a baby. I’ve never owned a bath sheet before and it’s hard to describe just how decadent it feels. Like a night away in a decent hotel, where you’re not the one who has to worry about the laundry, after every shower.
In fact, towels have always been something I scrimped on, which is easy enough to do when you’ve spent the past decade living next to various 24-hour supermarkets. It’s hard to get excited about purchasing towels, right? So you just pick them up when you need them, and use and wash them until they’re worn right through. But then, few of the most comforting things in life are exciting purchases. Well, maybe those overpriced bath bombs with the popping candy in the middle.
I describe these as “bamboo” towels not because they’re the colour of pale wood: this colour is in fact named latte and you are being rude. They are in fact made from bamboo, specifically a combination of sustainable bamboo fibre and cotton. Bamboo is, according to The Towel Shop, a surprisingly versatile material: it’s up to three times more absorbent than cotton and has natural anti-fungal properties, which means that the towel will dry you more quickly and it can be re-hung and re-used for longer between washes without getting damp and whiffy. It’s also great for the environment, as bamboo plants take up less space and have a far greater yield than the equivalent cotton plants.
Good for the planet and good for you too: cuddling up in one of these super-soft towels has been the perfect, luxurious finishing touch after a bath before changing into clean pyjamas (easily one of life’s great pleasures) and curling up in bed. And we all know getting a good night’s sleep is the key to taking on the world.
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.