Hot Tubs and Stress Relief
If times of stress leave you coiled in knots of tension, a soothing soak in a hot tub may benefit more than your sore muscles. That’s because new research is proving what folk wisdom has claimed all along—warm water is one of the best stress relievers there is.
Soaking in a hot tub reduces stress and anxiety and relaxes your body and mind. In addition to the soothing atmosphere that often surrounds backyard spas, warm water also offers physiological benefits, allowing you to destress and potentially improve your health at the same time. Immersion in warm water raises your body’s internal temperature. This causes dilated blood vessels, which improves circulation and crates the optimum environment in the body for relaxation.
Scientifically Backed Stress Relief
Dr. Bruce Becker, director of the National Aquatic & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, says hot tubs tackle stress and potentially improve health in several ways:
- Decrease Blood Pressure - Hot tubs can help improve circulation and lower blood pressure. “Immersion in warm or neutral water,” Becker says, “tends to decrease blood pressure and decrease the workload of the heart…by dilating blood vessels and reducing peripheral vascular resistance. By decreasing that resistance, it makes less work for the heart in circulating blood.”
- Boosts Cognitive Activity - This warm-water immersion simultaneously increases blood flow inside the brain, too. This boosts mental acuity, cognitive function and may even benefit Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. “Whether those effects are long-term isn’t yet known,” Becker says. “But things happen to the central nervous system which create the overall effect of relaxation.”
- Enhances Creative Capacity - Becker’s studies indicate regular hot tub use radically diminishes stress triggers of the central nervous system. When this occurs, the speed at which your brain processes information increases along with brain connectivity, leading to potential improvement of creativity and memory.
- Lowers Stress Levels - The stress-relieving effects of hot tub soaks don’t end when you step out of the water. Stress levels tend to stay lower in people who regularly engage in hydrotherapy. Becker points to studies of war veterans that evaluated post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers’ use of hot tubs. Preliminary findings indicate PTSD sufferers are calmer and exhibit fewer hair-trigger responses after hot tub hydrotherapy.
Stress Relief Shopping List
Want to create a haven for relaxation? Invest in a quality hot tub—you’ll want powerful jets to pound out the tension in your joints and muscles. Add a few accessories to enhance the relaxation experience:
- Scented candles in soothing fragrances like eucalyptus, lavender, and vanilla
- Refreshing drinks like bottled mineral water, fruit-infused water, and chamomile tea
- A soothing eye mask or slices of cucumbers to place on droopy eyelids
- Bluetooth speaker blasting a custom playlist of dreamy instrumentals or mellow music
Set the Stage for Relaxation
Outfit your stress-relieving backyard with a workhorse of a hot tub. Ideally, you’ll retreat to this calming spa every day, so you’ll want a tub that’s built to last. Hot tubs range in quality (and price) from bargain box models to top-of-the-line editions lavishly equipped with luxury features. Keeping your budget in mind, buy a well-insulated hot tub that boasts powerful jets. That way, you’ll have the ingredients necessary for warm soothing soaks that release muscle tension, even when snow swirls around you.
To create an optimal stress-relieving environment for your spa therapy, you’ll want to jazz up your hot tub with a few accessories. Surround your hot tub with natural landscaping, including plenty of greenery. Simply spending time in nature decreases stress levels, so when you combine a fragrant landscape with soothing hot water, you have a recipe for ultimate relaxation.
To reduce stress, target all your senses with relaxation. Fragrant plants will delight your nose, but set a few scented candles flickering around your hot tub for added effect. Floating candles or colored lights encourage your eyes to relax. To immerse your ears in relaxing sound, add a few lightly tinkling windchimes to your outdoor landscape or add a Bluetooth speaker to pump in soothing tunes. And for your sense of taste, keep bottles of cool water and light snacks—such as luscious fresh fruit—handy for hot tub snacking.
Soak, Soothe, Save the World
Hot water may have even helped save the free world. Legend holds that Sir Winston Churchill dictated speeches, book manuscripts, and correspondence to his secretary while he sat in a tub of warm water. We can’t recommend conducting business from your hot tub, but we can all take a page from Churchill’s book and implement hot water soaks into our daily routine.
Your stress-reducing soaks may not save the free world, but they can affect your interactions with friends and family. Simply soaking for 20 minutes per day may give you the down-time you need to present a refreshed face to the world, complete with more patience for the stresses and irritations of daily life.Return to Health Benefits