Healthy Mind

3 Restorative Self-Care Practices That Use Water As the Star Ingredient

Photo by Getty Images/Jack Hollingsworth
Water and wellness are inextricably linked: We drink it to stay hydrated (which is connected to feel-good benefits like providing headache relief, digestion aid, and improved heart health); we soak in it to cleanse and rejuvenate ourselves; and, when possible, we simply spend time around it to boost our levels of happiness. With that in mind, it makes sense for water to be a component of a healthy-living routine. The good news is that there are a number self-care practices with water that exist, and they could each be a welcome (and free!) addition to anyone’s self-care routine.

“Water gives you an opportunity to be present with yourself," says Yasmine Jameelah, a social entrepreneur, journalist, and founder of wellness collective Transparent & Black. "It allows you to really focus on the experience that you’re in currently.” That sense of being present that water can facilitate lends itself to all sorts of practices of mindful self care. Even if you’re someone who tends to zone out in the shower (or any other body of water, for that matter), you can surely reap the benefits of the element's healing properties.

“Whether you are in the bathtub, in the shower, or swimming, any time that you’re submerged in water, you have to be really present with yourself.” —Jameelah

“Whether you are in the bathtub, in the shower, or swimming, any time that you’re submerged in water, you have to be really present with yourself,” says Jameelah. “Ultimately, [being in water] is a beautiful opportunity to take care of yourself.”

And to be sure, there are so many ways to enjoy self-care practices with water. Below, Jameelah outlines three of her favorite ways to float away, so to speak, using H2O.

3 simple self-care practices with water to help you be present with yourself

1. Showering

Jameelah says she does a lot of deep breathing while she's showering, and to reap extra benefits of doing so, she hangs eucalyptus leaves over her shower head. Research has shown eucalyptus essential oils to be beneficial for the respiratory system, and they've also been turned to for healing and pain-relieving benefits in cultural practices for centuries. Since the steam in a shower can help to activate and release eucalyptus oils in its leaves, using the tree in this way can facilitate its aromatherapy benefits.

“When I take a shower, I center [myself and] my eucalyptus so that...I’m able to fully breathe in all of the properties of using it in the shower,” she says. Pro tip: Take a round glass and gently roll it over the leaves to help the eucalyptus release its soothing scent.

2. Taking a bath

"Growing up, my mom was big on baths. She takes two or three baths a week,” says Jameelah, who now also enjoys taking baths as a way to enjoy alone time She suggests a couple of bath hacks to facilitate it as a helpful self-care practice with water: “There are so many different things that we can do with baths—like bath salts,” she says, adding that she also uses essential oils to treat aches and pains and to achieve relaxation during her soaks.

She also has a bathtub caddy, for when she wants to catch up on a TV show, have wine in the tub, or read a book while she bathes. But other times, she doesn’t need any external stimulus for her bath time to be an effective means of self care. Baths, like meditation, require a level of stillness, Jameelah says. “It can be a beautiful time for you to lean into stillness more and notice different things about yourself.”

3. Swimming

Jameelah is a swimmer who vouches for the physical well-being benefits of the aquatic sport that allow for gentle, low-impact, full-body movement. It’s also plain, old fun. “It is a time for me to be present with myself and to engage with my inner child, because I swam a lot as a kid,” she says.

“I’m often amazed at all of the things that I can do while swimming that I’m not able to do otherwise. I can do jump squats in the pool. I can’t do jump squats as well as I'd like to on land. That extra support the water provides—it’s a beautiful experience.”

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