Water has various different physical properties that can have a soothing effect on the body and mind. You don’t have to visit a spa or have a hot-tub, sauna or steam room to take advantage of this. Sometimes, running a warm bath and then cooling off afterwards in the shower can make you feel refreshed and stimulate your blood flow. Good circulation is said to help your body function at its best, and this includes your mind, so it might help things feel sharper and clearer. Alternating between warmer and colder water in the shower could achieve the same benefits.
‘When I feel stressed or anxious, sometimes it helps to hold ice cubes and let them melt in my hands. The cold water is refreshing and it gives me some time to calm down.’
A recent case study published in British Medical Journal Case Reports suggests open water swimming might help people with depression be able to give up their medication and live happier lives. You can read a summary of the findings here.
What young people have told us:
'It is very calming and relaxes me, when I'm feeling stressed.'
'I lie in the bath then squeeze a wet facecloth over my body, alternating with hot and cold facecloths, this really helps to calm me down and stay in the moment.'
'When you take a shower or just soak yourself in water you will feel refreshed, relief, clean.'
'Yes, it helps me focus on what I'm physically feeling rather than focusing on my emotions which are dampened (heh) down for the moment by the contrast of very warm and cold water. '
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.