I went to a bathhouse once a week for two months and here’s what happened
Steam room. Sauna. Cold pool. Repeat. For the last eight Thursday mornings in a row, that’s been my rotation for two happy hours. And let me tell you, it is heavenly. I breathe—really breathe—for the first time all week. Tension and toxins pour out of me. I’m forced to lock away my phone and take a much-needed break from push notifications, text threads and work emails. My muscles loosen and my skin tightens, and I walk out feeling 10 years younger and 50 lbs lighter emotionally. And the benefits don’t end there.
1. I became a morning person
It’s tough getting up some mornings, but I found that for me, nothing makes me jump out of bed faster than knowing I get to go lay around in a sauna for two hours. I simply swap my sheets for clouds of steam and still get to be horizontal with my eyes closed, daydreaming. It’s been a way to shake up my weekly routine even better than a morning workout because less effort is involved and it truly is a form of pampering. Starting the day by doing something good for myself sets the tone for everything that follows. I’m calmer in afternoon meetings, more cheerful with friends and family, and more likely to work out and eat better throughout the week.
2. My skin rejoiced
This seems like a no-brainer, but the effects of this next-level care are quite literally illuminating for my skin. I’m talking glowing. With all the bad stuff being released in mass once a week (sugar, alcohol, pollutants, etc) my skin feels taut and plump all over. I’m less likely to see redness in my face, and less prone to breakouts since my skin is purging all the stuff it doesn’t like. With clearer skin, I’m more likely to skip the make-up, which in turn keeps my skin clear and happy. Win-win.
3. I relaxed—finally
When you devote two hours a week to the pursuit of relaxation, it pays off. And not just in the moment. During the routine stress of my week, I remember my upcoming steam room session and physically feel my body let go of tension just thinking about it. Knowing you have regular, substantial self-care on the horizon can lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and give you something to happily anticipate. But the regularity is what really does the trick. Once I established Thursday mornings as my recurring “Me time”, I was able to hurdle anything that was thrown my way early or mid-week, since I knew I could literally blow off steam in a day or two. And after my weekly sessions, I walked out feeling like jello—loose and calm.
Make self-care a priority
By now, we all know that self-care can look like a million different things. By ramping up the care to make it a regular, mandatory thing, I started to really prioritize the health of my body, putting it first. It led to better eating habits, it made me more likely to work out, dress better and feel better. When we find ways to celebrate and reward our bodies for all they do for us, it pays off in dividends. Ultimately this small act of weekly self-care made me feel more confident—and more at home in my body than I’ve felt in a long time.
Elle Kensington is a lifestyle writer based in NYC.