There are so many reasons to take a bath it seems surprising that people who have bathtubs don’t use them more often. The main reason of course is that showers are far more convenient. It’s so easy to stand in the shower, turn on a tap and let the water run over you. No need even to fiddle with the hot and cold water; shower mixers in Melbourne can ensure an even temperature from start to finish. And the amount of water used for a quick shower is considerably less than that needed to even half fill a bath. A shower takes less time than it does to dress, do your hair, and shave or put on makeup.
A bath however is something altogether different. The majority of people don’t take a bath merely to clean and freshen. It may take longer than a shower but it means something more. Sometimes it is like the comfort food you crave when you feel down and in need of consolation. Like the foods of our childhood a bath can evoke memories of times when we felt safe and secure. The bath can be a refuge, a retreat from the stresses and uncertainties of life.
A bath may have health benefits. It stimulates blood circulation and if not too hot, calms the nervous system making it easier to sleep. A hot bath can sooth and relax knotted muscles, alleviate the pain of arthritis and reduce muscle inflammation. It is said to be particularly effective in relieving lower back pain. The longer immersion in water exfoliates the skin far better than a shower, softening and loosening dead skin cells. Dry skin can be rehydrated better by soaking for at least 10-15 minutes before applying moisturiser, although a long immersion does strip away natural oils.
A bath though is more often a form of indulgence, a luxury, a way of pampering and rewarding ourselves. We may augment the experience with scented bath oils and candles, a pillow to cushion our head, soft music and a bottle of wine. This is not something to be hurried: it is a sensual experience to immerse oneself in, much as we immerse ourselves in the water. Some people like to read in the bath, others who can’t keep the pages dry prefer to watch a video or television. A good bath may last for an hour or more but the beneficial effects continue long after we emerge, wrapping ourselves in thick warm towels from cheap heated towel rails, the scent of the oils still in the air.
Bathing can be a solitary pleasure or one that is shared. Sharing a bath can be enormous fun, although some baths are better than others for multiple occupants; a larger bath for example and those that have side mounted bath spouts or swivel spouts. But whether alone or in company, there are always plenty of reasons to enjoy a bath. All we usually lack is the time.