It’s no secret that mental and physiological health are closely connected. Which means that the routine daily stressors we encounter – such as traffic jams or toddler temper tantrums at the grocery store – do take a toll on our bodies and physical health. There are a number of options for relieving stress, of course, but one of the best methods for a whole range of mental health benefits is the hydrotherapy approach.
Soaking in your hot tub for 15-30 minutes after a long day can reap the following mental health benefits:
1) Help to balance hormones
Studies have shown that soaking in hot water results in a combination of increased blood flow and relaxed breathing, which in turn causes an increase in levels of “happy” hormones like serotonin and dopamine, and a decrease in “stress” hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. This balance in hormones can help to treat the emotional and physical symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
2) Result in deeper sleep
The heat of hot tub water naturally raises your core body temperature. As you exit, your body temperature will enter a cooling period. This process mimics the pattern of body temperature changes before and during sleep, which ultimately helps you achieve a deeper sleep. And improved sleep is one of the best weapons you can have to combat stress on an ongoing basis.
3) Provide mental reprieve from physical symptoms
Whether your ailment is standard post-workout muscle soreness or advanced arthritis, physical pain understandably takes a toll on mental energy. While your body is healing inside the bubbling water of your hot tub, your mind will be freed from thoughts of pain. Use this opportunity to practice letting go of other mentally draining thoughts, such as work worries or routine responsibilities, and just focus on indulging in the solitude of your backyard oasis.
4) Offer opportunity for meditation
If you’ve ever wished you could master clearing your mind and achieving perfect serenity, your hot tub is the perfect place to practice meditation. You can use aromatherapy candles (in soothing scents of lavender or vanilla), and play calming nature sounds to help distract you from racing thoughts. Practice taking slow deep belly breaths as you focus on the warm water enveloping your body, and the strains of the music, if you choose to use it. Begin with a goal of 4-5 minutes of consistent focus, and slowly work your way up to sessions of 15 minutes. Eventually, you’ll be able to harness the calmness and clarity that you can achieve here, and call upon it during moments of stress in your day.