Let me ask you… Have you ever taken a salt bath?
I am always surprised at the number of people that have never tried one, as there are so many immediate benefits to the practice. As important as it is to do the deep, long term, inner work, as well as the external work that comes with leadership, I think it’s equally important to talk about the shorter term practices and habits that can keep us energized for everything else that’s going on in our lives.
Salt baths are one such practice. I recommend them to all my clients as they are much more than a soothing soak. In this article, we’ll explore:
- What are salt baths?
- What are the physical benefits of taking a salt bath?
- What are the mental and emotional benefits of salt baths?
- What about salt showers?
- Sea salt or Epsom salt?
- How to prepare a salt bath
- Why do I recommend salt baths to executives?
What Are Salt Baths?
A salt bath is a bath with either Epsom salts or sea salts and sometimes additional ingredients, that is intended to relieve a number of physical discomforts, as well as to promote overall well-being.
Using Epsom salts or sea salts – ideally as unprocessed as possible – these baths are rich in natural minerals that contribute to the many benefits described below.
What are the Physical Benefits of Taking a Salt Bath?
Therapeutic salt baths have long been practiced for their physical benefits. These include both scientifically proven and anecdotal benefits, such as:
- Relief from muscle and joint soreness
- Faster recovery from injuries
- Improvement in skin conditions such as dryness, psoriasis, eczema, acne and irritations
- Improved circulation
- Improved sleep quality
The improvement in sleep quality can have compounded health benefits because a sleep deficit can actually lead to lower immune function. Better sleep can mean a healthier immune system, which means your body is better able to recover from illnesses or injuries.
My clients who use sleep trackers have told me they experience deeper sleep after a pre-bed salt bath, which further adds to the rejuvenating, healing impacts of the practice.
Many people – myself included – also use baking soda in their salt baths as it too has healing and soothing properties, as well as detoxifying properties that can help draw impurities out of the pores.
What are the Mental and Emotional Benefits of Salt Baths?
Some people find baths in general to be relaxing, so if you do, that would certainly be a benefit. If you aren’t usually a “bath person” note that salt baths aren’t meant to be long soaks, and the benefits to your physical well-being can certainly have a positive impact on your mental or emotional well-being as well (or you can opt for a salt shower, described below).
Some of those benefits may be:
- Reduced stress due to lowered cortisol levels
- A sense of inner calm or peace
- Reduced feelings of overwhelm or brain fog
- Increased sense of mindfulness or connection with the present moment
- Reduced emotional or mental fatigue
- Reduced feelings of stress, anxiety or depression*
*This is specific to the feelings known as anxiety and depression and not the mental health conditions by the same names. Salt baths may be beneficial for people with those conditions, but please discuss that with your healthcare provider.
Although I included it as a physical benefit, I believe that improved sleep quality also belongs here as sleep is so deeply linked with both emotional and mental wellness.
What About Salt Showers?
If you don’t enjoy baths, or don’t have access to a tub, a salt shower is an option.
This article has a recipe for a DIY body scrub consisting of salts and a carrier oil, which is a neutral oil such as olive, coconut, avocado, almond and so on. While the grainy scrub can be used as an exfoliant, you can also simply apply the scrub to wet skin and allow it to sit for several minutes before washing it away.
Sea Salt or Epsom Salt?
Sea salt comes from sea water and is usually minimally processed, meaning it retains a lot of its natural minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc. Some brands are more processed than others, so you do want to read labels, and avoid the type intended for cooking, as that tends to be highly processed, which depletes the natural minerals. Unprocessed and minimally processed sea salts also have much lower concentrations of sodium chloride, which is the main component of regular table salt.
When it comes to sea salt, you also have the choice of Dead Sea salt, which is derived directly from the Dead Sea and naturally contains higher amounts of magnesium, potassium, zinc and other beneficial nutrients. Though it is absolutely a salt and contains sodium (which helps with absorption), it is very different from any salt you would find in a kitchen, having a bitter taste and a history going back millennia of therapeutic use.
Epsom salt, on the other hand, is not actually a salt, but a natural mineral that crystallizes in a similar way, and was first found in the English town of Epsom, hence the name. It, too, is rich in magnesium and other minerals, with some brands being more processed than others.
Which salt you choose is really a matter of preference and possibly availability. Both are gentle and even soothing on the skin for most people, but don’t hesitate to do a patch test if you’re concerned about sensitivities.
How to Prepare a Salt Bath
In my practice, I recommend a bath with 1 cup of sea salt or Epsom salts, and the optional addition of 1 cup of baking soda and/or a few drops of essential oil. Add these to a full bath of warm or lukewarm water; never hot. Mix until the salts and baking soda are fully dissolved.
Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to relax. It feels oh so goooooood! I have tried all kinds of essential oils and found that lavender and eucalyptus are my favorite. Feel free to try other oils, just do so with caution if you’re prone to skin sensitivities, and remember that you only need a few drops.
You may also want to adjust the lighting and add candles or soothing music. This practice is about your well-being. Think about how you want to feel after the bath (or shower) and only bring in elements that feel in alignment with that experience.
I advise clients to soak in the warm water for a maximum of 20 minutes. After your bath, rinse off any salt or baking soda residue. A salt bath can be very soothing and healing, but the salts can also cause dryness or irritation if left on your skin for long periods.
Why do I Recommend Salt Baths to Executives?
I recommend salt baths to my executive coaching clients because they can be better leaders when they care for themselves, which empowers them to better support the people around them.
What I’ve learned in my years of coaching is that executives and high-level leaders struggle with so many of the same challenges as everyone else. They worry about their families, they care what people think, they have insecurities and fears and self-limiting beliefs. They struggle with self-care, they struggle with sleep and stress relief, and they get sore muscles and joints that make it hard to bring their full and best selves to the work that they do.
I believe it can’t be said enough that we need to fill our own cups in order to serve others, and that we shouldn’t fill our cups just to serve others. I continually see people stuck in cycles of making the bare minimum of energy deposits into themselves just to turn around and drain those energy stores. And repeat, repeat, repeat.
Imagine someone with an illness that needs time and attention to heal. But, instead of taking that time and attention, the person just keeps taking painkillers to get themselves through the day.
That scenario is similar to how many of us – executives included – approach our inner well-being. In fact, given the links between stress and illness, it’s frighteningly similar. We’re all connected and we all deserve the same goodness and ease that we want for the people we care for.
So while it may seem odd to include baths as a coaching tool, I truly believe that the benefits make it a perfect fit.
If you are interested in more tools and practices for caring for your whole self, or providing support for your team in bringing themselves up to their next level, I invite you to connect with me.