May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and a time to reflect on how mental health affects our quality of life, our experiences and our relationships. Today, more people than ever before are paying attention to their mental well-being and looking for ways to reduce stress.
Experts say that stress can be a major contributing factor in developing mental health issues. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. adults have experienced various effects of stress in the past month including headaches, feeling overwhelmed, fatigue or changes in sleep habits. Americans reported work, money, the economy and family responsibilities as the most significant sources of stress over the past year.
Self-care is very important to managing stress, and spending a little time each day to care for yourself can make you better at everything you do. The National Institute of Mental Health says that self-care looks different to everyone, and finding what you need and enjoy may take some trial and error. Regular exercise, eating healthy, setting goals and priorities, and engaging in relaxing activities are some ways to get started with self-care.
Epsom Salt Baths for Self-Care and Stress Relief
Epsom salt baths are an easy and affordable method of self-care that many enjoy for stress relief and relaxation. Epsom salts are high in magnesium, a mineral that helps the body produce energy in the cells. This can help stabilize mood and relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
In fact, research by the Nutritional Magnesium Association shows magnesium has been proven to reduce feelings of depression, and that serotonin—the feel-good brain chemical—depends on magnesium for its production and function. Lack of serotonin is thought to contribute to health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Magnesium also increases GABA levels that produce a calming effect and restricts the release of stress hormones like cortisol.
Adding Epsom salt to a warm bath dissolves the magnesium and allows it to be absorbed through the skin while you bathe. Adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath and soaking for 10 minutes once or twice a week is all you need.
Steps to a Relaxing and Revitalizing Epsom Salt Bath
- Run a bath: Pour 1-2 cups of Epsom salt into a clean bathtub as it fills with hot water. Be sure to use Epsom salt that is 100% magnesium sulfate
- Set the mood: Dim the lights, light a candle and play some peaceful music. Give yourself plenty of time to relax, breathe and soak in the benefits
- Upgrade with essential oils: Add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to the bath to increase the benefits. Lavender, sage or chamomile aid in relaxation. Lemon, clove bud, cedar wood and orange essence support stress relief
- Soak: Get in and relax! Aim for at least 10 minutes and up to 20 minutes to get the full benefit
To stay on track, try changing up your bath salt recipe regularly. At-home bath salt recipes are easy to make and enjoy. Take some time in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month to focus on self-care, and set a goal to relax and reduce the effects of stress in your life.