Have you ever walked into your bathroom with one mood and walked out with another? Of course, you have. A study found that a long hot bath in the afternoon for just two days a week was almost as effective as aerobic exercise in reducing symptoms of depression. It works by fixing your body’s natural day-night rhythm (circadian rhythm).
You don’t need to take a hot bath in the afternoon for these benefits though. Use warm bath water if you feel cold or have a tendency to catch a cold. If you heat up quickly, use cool water for the morning bath. And for more feel-good vibes, mix essential oil to your bathwater.
There’s science in this too. The fragrant molecules from the essential oils travel to the limbic system in your brain. This is the control room for your heart rate, blood pressure, emotions, memory, and stress levels. The right essence at the right time can shift your mood.
People who are generally slow and sluggish would benefit from a warm, energizing fragrance, while those who are naturally active would get more help from cooling essences. That said, let your mood be the judge.
- If you have pent-up stress from the day before, use sweet calming essences like chamomile, lavender, myrrh, and ylang ylang. Both chamomile and lavender can interact with receptors of a calmness-inducing brain chemical called GABA and make you feel less agitated by stimuli from outside. That, however, doesn’t mean you’ll feel sleepy for the rest of the day. Daylight can save your day.
- If you need to fight distractions and stay focused, pick a cooling essence. Besides lavender and chamomile, clary sage, rosemary, and rose can be good essential oils to calm you down and sharpen your focus. Rosemary prevents the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is essential for clear thinking, focus, and memory.
- If you need to stay awake, alert, and fresh, choose energizing and refreshing essences like peppermint, grapefruit, and lemongrass. All of these have a sharp, warm smell. Peppermint is known to stimulate the reticular activating system of the brain. It’s the area responsible for alertness.
Tip: Rather than pouring the essential oil directly to your bath water, mix it with Epsom salt. That way it mixes better. Don’t have a bathtub? Rub a few drops of the essential oil on the rim of your shower.
Have a fragrant beginning!