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How To Manage Stress... And Relax
Well, for a start, we can learn how to build relaxation in as part of our daily routine. Relaxation is one of the keys to stress management and bathing is an excellent way to relax. Professor Stephen Palmer, Director of the Centre for Stress Management, explains: "My research shows that having a bath is a good 'stability zone' - a natural form of stress management that people may not even realise they have. Comfortable warm or hot baths are most effective for stress relief because they may trigger the parasympathetic nervous system which aids physical and mental relaxation: it relaxes the body, aids the immune system, reduces blood pressure and activates the digestive system."
Are You Ignoring Stress?
Stress occurs when pressure exceeds a person's perceived ability to cope. One of the biggest causes of stress includes changes in working practices. More women are in work now than ever before yet most still feel emotionally and psychologically responsible for looking after the home and family.

Stress seems to be part of everyone's day-to-day life – but this doesn't mean you should ignore it. There are proven links between stress and a wide range of physical and mental health problems – from headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and panic attacks to coronary heart disease and stomach ulcers. Day to day symptoms of stress include headaches, mouth ulcers, tiredness, backaches and palpitations.

Relieving stress helps the mind and body to help function effectively. So what can you do to help lower your stress levels?
Bathing for your Body
Various experts suggest that bathing may:
  • boost your metabolism
  • increase blood circulation
  • lower blood pressure
  • remove toxins from your body through perspiration
  • help relieve aching muscles
  • send oxygen and nutrients into the skin's tissues to help repair damage
Indulge Your Senses
Fragrances can have a powerful effect on your emotions & can enhance the relaxation benefits of your bath. The science of Aromachology has studied the effects of fragrance on mood and behaviour and has shown that certain fragrances can be proven to elicit a variety of specific feelings and emotions – for example, relaxation, exhilaration, happiness and wellbeing. Inhaling a fragrance, such as the aromatic steam from a bath, engages a process that is most closely linked to human emotions as compared to any other of your senses. The fragrance transmits a message via the olfactory pathways to the brain's "pleasure centre" where chemicals are triggered that can bring about a physical & mental change, such as relaxation.
Pregnancy And The Bath
Experts say that it is important to find ways to relax during pregnancy and recommend that you practice relaxation at least once a day. Pregnancy is a time of extra strain on your body with physical aches and pains, such as backache, a common problem. In addition, it is a time when it can be more difficult than normal to cope with the stresses of everyday life. Having a relaxing bath is a perfect way to ease the mental & physical stress, take the weight off your body and help give yourself some relief and time to think about yourself and your baby. Deep breathing and meditation may also be very helpful. It's hardly surprising that many mothers-to-be suffer from insomnia; you're growing and it’s getting more uncomfortable and difficult to sleep every day. However, sufficient sleep is really important to allow the body time to repair, rejuvenate and restore itself. A warm (but not hot) bath before bed can help you relax and induce a better nights sleep.
Bathing For Your Mind
Some experts suggest that bathing could be a simple way to help you relax and reduce stress.
Bathing may:
  • relieve mental fatigue
  • reduce anxiety
  • improve memory
  • increase levels of concentration and creativity
  • boost mental alertness
  • help you sleep
  • soothe anger
  • increase your coping ability
The Power Of The Shower
While you may have difficulty winding down after a stressful day – it's common to have trouble getting going in the mornings too. Studies from The Sleep Research Laboratory show that 90 per cent of people struggle getting out of bed. Showering can provide the stimulation you need to start the day feeling mentally alert and invigorated. A study suggests that showering can increase the heart rate and blood flow.

For an ideal shower, start by standing under warm water, then gradually decrease the temperature - the cooler the water the more it refreshes you and stimulates your circulation

Try using a natural loofah or brush in the shower. Wet it thoroughly and make gentle, circular movements all over your body. But why reserve the benefits of showering for the morning? A shower may help leave you feeling refreshed after a long day at work or strenuous exercise