I’m Not a ‘Bath Person,’ So Someone Please Tell Me: WTF Do People Do in the Tub?

As someone who's super into the drama of rom-com protagonists during their "dark moment" scenes, "contemplating life choices in the bathtub" should be an activity I love. But despite all the dreamy film moments and Instagram posts that basically sing the praises of baths and products available to optimize them, I just can't wrap my mind around them and have not taken one in years. I won't deny that, in theory, a bubble bath sounds relaxing, but in practice, it feels to me like simmering in my own consommé. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't really entice me, but even if it did, I still don't understand WTF one does in the bath.

I've heard examples, but still, things don't add up. For instance, a guy I was flirting with via text once mentioned that he was eating cheese in the bath—is that a thing? Like, are people taking full-on charcuterie boards into their tub? Because I could maybe be down for that, but I still contend that I'd rather just enjoy a charcuterie board, not in a vat of my own filth.

And that's just the start of my ocean of questions: If you're in the camp who likes to read in the tub, how do keep your book from getting soggy? And to those of you Instagramming your feet emerging from a surface of bubbles while you recline in the tub, aren't you worried you might drop your phone into the water when you check to see if your crush watched your Instagram story about taking said bath? (Same question to my flirty friend with the bath cheese.) Furthermore, does the water ever stay at the right temperature for more than two minutes?

To help make sense of it all, I asked bath-loving friends, family, and Well+Good staffers about things to do in the bath. Because though I'm ready to open my mind, I'll need a lot more convincing and questions answered before I dip in.

Things to do in the bath, according to bath lovers themselves

"Baths are the lowest-lift form of self care," one Well+Good staffer tells me. Germs also freak her out, so she can only take baths in a tub she trusts, and she showers beforehand, but then she could "spend hours in the bath, with lots of bubbles and oils to keep [her] skin from getting too prune-y." She spends that time reading a book or watching Netflix, which "feels far more productive and enjoyable than doing either on dry land."

My question still stands regarding book sogginess, so I asked additional Well+Good staffers to get a consensus, and it seems like they simply lean in. "Oh, I just always get the book wet," is the immediate response from one contributor. And "meh," seems to be the vibe about the temperature of the bathwater, but after some quick googling, I learned bubbles can help insulate the water and keep it warm for longer.

Similar to a massage, warm water can help relieve muscle soreness, as well as warm up your muscles and relieve tension.

Another bath stan from team Well+Good says you don't have to do anything in a bath because it's a "meditative moment." I followed up by asking "wait, so you just sit there?" and another staffer chimes into our conversation to say that basically, yes, you do just sit there, but you can play music, listen to a podcast, or sit in silence. She adds that sitting in hot water is basically the closest she gets to a massage. This tracks, because similar to a massage, warm water can help relieve muscle soreness, as well as warm up your muscles and relieve tension. Plus this same contributor has a 1-year-old, so baths are basically her only alone time, which she relishes.

I'm not a 1-year-old, but my own mother is also a fan of the silent bath and alone time it affords; she lights a candle and enjoys just doing nothing. "Cry," is how one friend responds when I ask what she does in the bath. Another friend says she drinks wine and plots against her enemies. Another Well+Good contributor adds that she adds a bunch of bath accoutrements, like magnesium flakes, CBD bath bombs, and bubbles to her tub and enjoys a CBD drink while she soaks.

Still not convinced? Neither am I—here's how a pro suggests I shift my mindset

It seems that most things to do in the bath are things I'd simply rather do on dry land. But since I do now feel like I'm missing something, I asked Shauna Cummins, a certified clinical hypnosis practitioner and the author of Wishcraft who helps clients turn wishes into actions, if it's possible to make bath time feel more like an active practice and not a colossal waste of time.

To start, she advises that I practice one of her "wishcraft" self-hypnosis rituals. First, I write down things I love and appreciate about myself before I go into the bath. Then, I get into the bath and repeat my list because "that really focuses your mind and brings it to a collaborative state of self-appreciation," she says. Once I feel ready, I'm to find a part of myself that needs a little extra support. Next, she says to tune into that part as if it were a person (or cartoon, or whatever works for you), and "imagine that you have this part of you, like this healing fairy wish godmother, that can work to heal and support that part of you that needs a little extra tenderness."

From there, I allow myself to identify my wishes, and then imagine them happening. "Imagine that you're at a movie, and you can look up at the screen see yourself living into those wishes fully manifested," she says. If that seems like a lot to remember on your own, you can listen to a guided self-hypnosis while in the tub.

She also tells me that baths can actually help you become more connected to your meditative practices. "In ancient Celtic tradition, it's "believed that water was sacred, and that the gods dwells in the water," she says. Rituals in ancient Egypt's sleep temples and ancient Greece's dream temples involved going into a trance state while in a warm bath. This is, I think, what I had been missing for me for the whole time—the purpose of the water. So while I won't be taking any of my paperbacks into the bathtub anytime soon, I may just be convinced to scrub my bathtub and give this whole bath thing another chance.

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