The winter blues fix that’s great for skin, too

Janet Zand OMD, LAc

March 4, 2022
 
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Winter has some real downsides.

It’s cold, of course. Your skin dries out.  And on top of that, many people battle the “winter blues,” when less sunlight brings on sadness and fatigue.

So if you’re dealing with any of that in these last weeks of winter, here’s good news:

There’s a way to lift your spirits (and moisturize your skin), and it only takes 20 minutes! You can even do it tonight.

So what is it?

Taking a bath. Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like a novel idea. However, you might be surprised at what the science says about the benefits of a nice soak in a tub.

For instance, studies show that baths can lift your mood, improving your mental and emotional health. One study found that a bath at 104 Fahrenheit (think hot tub temperature) improves depression. Other studies have linked warm baths to lowered stress hormones and more balanced serotonin levels, which helps regulate your mood.

Not only that, but a long bath can even burn calories — enough to offset a glass of wine! A study actually found that soaking for 1 hour in a hot bath burned as many calories (about 140) as a 30-minute walk. Researchers said it’s because the warm water makes your heart beat faster, giving it a healthy, gentle workout.

And finally, baths can be great for dry skin in winter, too. Now, you might have heard the opposite — that baths dry out your skin.

However, it’s all in how you bathe.

The key is to add moisturizing ingredients to the bathwater. You can buy bath products that do this, or just make your own bath soak. Here’s a recipe to try:

1. 1 cup of oatmeal or quick oats
2. ½ cup of Epsom salts
3. 2 tbsp baking soda
4. 10 drops of lavender essential oil

Place the ingredients in a blender and blend until the oats are finely ground. Add this mixture to warm bathwater, and soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Finally, follow your bath with the "Soak and Seal" method, as suggested by the National Eczema Association. Here’s how it works: Right after getting out of the tub, towel-dry lightly, leaving your skin slightly damp. Then apply lotion liberally to lock in the moisture.

A bath is such a great addition to your self-care routine in winter. Give it a try tonight, and let me know how it goes!

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