Even though this month consists of two of the most popular days of the entire year—Christmas and New Year's Eve—I recently discovered that December features another day of observance; one that surrounds doing one of my absolute favorite things on the planet—taking a bath. Well, in the spirit of all that is pampering and luxurious, guess what today (December 5) is? It's officially National Bathtub Party Day (#BathtubPartyDay) which is all about encouraging us to forego the five-minute shower that a lot of us take on the way to work and, instead, choosing to get very up close and personal with our tub instead. How awesome is that?
What's really special about this is the fact that, aside from the pure relaxation that comes from taking a long soak, there are lots of health benefits that you can get from spending time in your bathtub too. Bathing increases blood circulation, reduces pain and body inflammation, soothes achy joints and muscles, detoxifies your skin and even helps to balance out your hormones. Plus, if you decide to bring a guest into the tub with you, well, like they say—the more, the merrier!
So, before heading home tonight, do yourself a favor and stop by a store to pick up some of the following items; ones that will turn your bathtub party into one that you—and yours—will not soon forget.
A big part of what comes with having a luxurious bath time experience is setting the right mood. Something that can help you to do that is turning off your bathroom light and lighting some candles instead. I recommend going with soy ones because they burn longer and cleaner (which means they are better for the environment).
If you're going to bathe alone, get some scented ones that will help you to relax—lavender, rose, jasmine, lemon and frankincense are all wonderful de-stressors. If your boo will be joining you, go with scents like vanilla, pumpkin, sandalwood, ylang ylang and orange are surefire ways to light your libidos right on up.
Plants and/or Flowers
Something else that's a nice addition to bathing is making the room as tropical as possible; especially during the fall and winter seasons. You can do this by bringing a couple of plants and/or flowers into your bathroom and either placing them on the toilet or—if the plants are tall enough—beside it. My recommendation would be to get two bouquets of roses. You can use one to set the atmosphere and you can pull the petals off of the other to place into your bathwater. Not only will the petals make you feel extravagant, DIY rosewater will make your skin silky soft as well.
92-Degree Bath Water
Earlier this year, I penned a piece entitled "Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?". One of the things that I touched on is what the temperature of your bathwater should be. According to a lot of health experts, it's best if your water is lukewarm; based on something that I recently read, 92 degrees qualifies as being that. But if you want to make sure that your water isn't too hot or too cold, test the temperature with your wrists rather than your fingers before getting into the tub. Your skin is more sensitive on your wrists, so you'll be able to get a more accurate read by using them.
As far as what you should actually put into your bath water, don't sleep on bath salts. Not only are they able to detox your system, they also can boost your immunity, soothe your muscles, balance the alkaline levels in your body, increase your energy levels and, because it's currently cold outside, bath salts are able to relieve any congestion that you might have too.
If you're wondering what kind of salts to get, it all depends on what you want to accomplish most. Epsom salt is a great detoxifier. If your body feels tired and drained, peppermint salts will revive you. Looking for salts that will treat dry skin? Go with some almond or orange ones. Or, if you want the kind of salts that will effectively treat skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or acne, opt for some seaweed bath salts. As far as grain size, the smaller the salts, the more effective they are. Oh, and bath salt colors play a significant role as well. Cooler hues tend to offer a more soothing effect while warm colors are more prone to energize. Just make sure that you go with bath salts that are made from sea salt; they are the ones that will give your body the most benefits.
By the way, if you'd prefer to make your own, all you need is some Epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda and your favorite essential oil (or oils). You can check out a pretty simple recipe here.
Something that can give you a great aromatherapy experience is if you add a few drops of essential oil (no more than 20 drops is best) into your bathwater. Although pretty much any kind will do, if you want to clear up your nasal passages, go with eucalyptus; bergamot reduces stress; chamomile will help to relax you; rosemary increases blood circulation (which automatically makes it an aphrodisiac oil); cinnamon contains antispasmodic and analgesic properties that relax muscles and even help to clear up chest colds; neroli promotes a good night's rest, and clary sage reduces symptoms that are associated with anxiety.
Something that can totally change the way that you soak and bathe is investing in a bath pillow. Not only do they help to support your neck, back and shoulders, some studies cite that they can increase your ability to relax while you're in the tub by as much as almost 85 percent. This link can provide you with some fan favorite brands. Or, if you want to run by a local Bed Bath & Beyond on your way home, look for the Luxury Spa Bath Pillow. Home Depot has a Soft Comfort Spa Seat Cushion too.
Bath Gloves and DIY Shower Gel
Personally, I'm a fan of using bath gloves in order to wash up; that's because I am able to comfortably reach all parts of my body. As a bonus, bath gloves are an easy way to exfoliate while I'm washing up. As far as what you should wash with, if you add some shea butter, glycerin and xanthan gum to the castile soap that you already have, you can lather up with a wonderful-feeling homemade shower gel (cop the full recipe here).
Thanks to the antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols that are in red wine, you'll be doing your body a real favor if you treat yourself to a glass of it while you're in the midst of enjoying your bath time. The key is to have no more than 4-5 ounces (per day) and to get the kind of wine that will be the most personally beneficial for you. If tons of antioxidants are what you're after, look for a madarin wine. If you'd prefer less sugar and calories, pinot noir has your back. Also, if you want to know what kind of red wine is healthier overall, dry is better for you than sweet.
An Ultra-Plush Towel
Something else that's super important is the kind of towel that you decide to hop out of your bathwater with. If you like super plush towels, ones that are made out of Turkish cotton and are 820-gram are probably gonna be your best bet. Or, if you'd prefer the kind that will dry your skin quickly and also won't take forever to dry on your towel rack, opt for a towel that is made out of microfiber.
If It's Gonna Be a Party for Two:
A husband once told me that the only way that he will ever take a bath is if he takes a shower first. Personally, I don't do that when I'm alone, but if I were to share a tub with someone, that's how I would get down too; especially since taking a bath with another person isn't really about getting clean…if you know what I mean. And who wants to soak in each other's dirty and dead skin cells for thirty minutes or more? Yuck.
Besides, as far as the showering first part goes, it's not like you can't make some things go down while you're scrubbing in the shower. Shower sex was actually one of this year's biggest sex trends, so why not literally go out of 2019 with a…bang?
Less Bubbles, More Milk
If your plan is to get "dirty" before getting clean, it's probably best to lay off of the bubbles. Between all of the moving around in the water, they can prove to be a little irritating if you and yours aren't careful. Instead, swap out the bubbles for some homemade bath milk. It has a way of naturally exfoliating your skin and making it really soft as a direct result. (There's a great recipe for it here.)
Music (or ASMR)
Don't ask me how I ended up reading "Chance the Rapper Made You a Bath Time Playlist", but all things work together and it did remind me to put play some music on the list. If you're bathing alone, this is another way to get into a relaxing mood.
However, the reason why I reserved this for the "party of two" section is there's a study that says music makes sex better because it actually enhances our sense of touch.
Sounds like a good enough reason to bump some R&B if you ask me. Or, if you'd prefer to feel like you're caught up in a wind or rainstorm, YouTube has plenty of ASMR videos that you can play which I also think is pretty hot.
An Aphrodisiac Drink—or Two
When you're alone, have some wine. When someone is joining you, serve up an aphrodisiac drink like Cupid's Kiss, Ginger Mango Granita, Mango Jasmine Bubble Tea, Mexican Hot Chocolate Martini or Saratoga. All of these contain at least a couple of ingredients that officially make the aphrodisiac list and between all of the wetness and closeness, just imagine what an alcoholic libido booster can do for the two of you.
Just one more thing. If you do plan on gettin' it in while you're bathing, it's a good idea to keep some waterproof lube by the side of the tub. Water has a way of washing off your natural wetness, so you need something that can replace it, just so the sex remains wet 'n wild rather than dry and uncomfortable. Astroglide is a popular brand that you should be able to find at Walmart. Enjoy your time in the tub. You (and yours) deserve it!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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