Is there anything more relaxing than a warm bath or shower after a hard day?
It's not just the warm water that makes us feel chilled out – it's also down to our biology.
Here's the science bit: splashing water on your face triggers something called the mammalian diving reflex. Your body believes that it's going to go for a swim underwater, so your heart rate drops quickly – making you feel calmer.
This is also a good way to calm yourself down if you're feeling anxious.
Research has also shown that having a warm bath could help to relieve depression as much as physical exercise.
You can make your bath or shower even more relaxing by trying out some simple meditation and mindfulness techniques. Read on for more great tips for practising meditation and mindfulness in the bath or shower.
Warning: don't meditate in the bath if you're feeling drowsy (safety first).
How to meditate in the bath or shower
A short meditation in the bath or shower is a great way to unwind after a crazy day or to start the new day in a good frame of mind.
Again – don't try this in the bath if you're feeling at all sleepy!
Control your environment
Begin by controlling your environment – switch off your phone, light some candles and use some scented bubble bath or shower gel (lavender is great for this). Set aside at least 15 minutes for this exercise.
Clear your head
Close your eyes and give yourself a minute to clear your head. Let go of the worries of the day and just enjoy the warmth.
Focus on your breathing. Is your breath filling your lungs? Is your chest rising and falling slowly?
Control your breathing. Breathe in slowly for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, then very slowly breathe out again.
Enjoy the moment
Carry on the meditation for a few minutes, then allow yourself to come back into the room. Keep still until you feel ready to get out of the bath or shower.
How to bathe mindfully
This time, you're going to be focusing on your senses (except taste – unless you plan on having a snack in the bath) and how your body feels in the moment. An easy way to do this is to focus on each sense – one at a time:
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- Sight. What can you see? Watch the water run over your skin if you're in the shower – or if you're in the bath, look at the patterns on the surface of the water. Make ripples and watch them grow.
- Smell. Close your eyes and think about each of the different scents you can smell – lavender, camomile, lemon, soap. Choose your favourite fragrance and focus on it.
- Touch. Think about how the water feels against your skin. Take a moment to think about your body too – are there any tense muscles? Let them relax and allow the tension to drift away.
- Sound. What can you hear? Pick out the individual sounds one by one – water running, bird sounds, people talking, traffic.
- Allow yourself to remain for a while, just enjoying the moment before you get out of the shower/bath and have a great day.
Want to learn more about mindfulness? Check out our guide to the best mindfulness courses online.