How do hot tubs help with mental health? Can a hot tub improve my emotional wellbeing?

Let's face it. Lockdown 3.0, restrictions on seeing the people we love, job stress and working from home with children, cold weather and dark nights… it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling a bit dejected. Even more sobering is the fact that at least one in four UK adults will experience a mental health illness this year and this number is likely to rise over the coming months. 

There are many biological and circumstantial reasons why someone may suffer from illnesses such as depression, stress and anxiety but would you be surprised to learn that regular hot tub use can help you manage some of the symptoms and hormonal contributors behind common disorders? Now we’re not suggesting ever that a hot tub will replace medication or additional support, but if you’re feeling less than your best, then here are just a few reasons why a hot tub might help you get things back on track.

Hormones.. those cheeky chemical signallers that cause drama during our teenage years are also responsible for stabilising our overall mood. A major contributor for many mental health illnesses is cortisol. 

Cortisol is the ‘fight or flight’ hormone which our body produces to help us deal with stressful situations. When we become highly stressed or anxious however our body can produce an excess of this hormone. This can be particularly disruptive to our mood, energy levels, digestion, weight and blood pressure. Unhelpful for a healthy adult but even worse if you’re already suffering with chronic stress or anxiety!

By contrast, regular hot tub use (at lest 20 minutes a day over a period of several weeks) has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol levels. Warm water and gentle massage from jets all increase overall blood flow and circulation, carrying endorphins, nutrients and minerals around the body, and helping to slow down and regulate our breathing. Calm breathing then encourages production of a magical hormone known as serotonin. This is your happy hormone and helps regulate your mood naturally whilst reducing those problematic cortisol levels. 

In re-balancing these crucial hormones, your stress levels should feel dramatically reduced, your mental state calmer and other side affects associated with depression which we’ll explore further now, should feel more manageable.

It’s a vicious circle but as soon as those stressful thoughts start permeating our dreams and preventing a restful nights sleep, severe tiredness and fatigue will inevitably further lower your mood. The worse you feel emotionally, the harder it becomes to drop off to unbroken sleep and so the cycle continues.

A hot tub can interrupt this unfortunate cycle. The science shows that our body temperature naturally falls as we go to bed and during our nights sleep. The elevation in body temperature associated with hot tub use and then subsequent fall has been proven to aide this natural process, helping us drift off to a better, deeper, and more restful nights sleep.

Even more encouraging, remember that stress hormone we spoke about? High stress and cortisol  levels will inevitably keep us tossing and turning for hours. Reducing these levels and increasing positive endorphin levels will certainly help us drift off to sleep much more easily.

A hot tub is certainly nature’s sleeping pill but the key to making this work is routine. Soaking at the same time each night, switching off devices with their sleep-depriving blue light, avoiding stimulants (caffeine and alcohol) and then going to bed will all help contribute to a more healthy sleep pattern. Getting your sleep back on track takes you one step closer to managing one of the most debilitating side effects of mental illness.

The healing power of nature is undeniable. Winter time with long dark nights, short days and poor weather mean we all retreat inside. Combine this with the current restrictions and increased working from home, we may find that we get very little time outdoors. This in turn limits our exposure to crucial daylight, nature and vitamin D which can exacerbate illnesses like depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So why might a hot tub help with this dilemma? For starters, most customers in our experience tend to place their hot tubs outdoors. Indeed 80% of all of our installations over the last 10 years have been outside. We all tend to imagine spending summer days and evenings lounging outdoors in a hot tub and whilst this is undoubtably great fun, it’s in the winter that they can help encourage us outdoors. Use your hot tub to stay warm whilst getting that mood-boosting vitamin D hit and your body will certainly thank you for it.

Plus remember our old foe cortisol? Nature, peace and quiet, fresh air, being outdoors… all of these actions work to REDUCE cortisol levels. Combine this with the hydrotherapy that comes specifically from hot tub use and you’ll undoubtably find yourself in a much calmer and clearer state of mind.

No-one enjoys chronic pain which can certainly take its toll on our mental state. If we’re stressed physically then we’ll feel stressed mentally. Guess what pain also contributes to the rise of? Once again it’s cortisol! We already know this is the enemy of a calm mental state. Luckily managing physical pain with hydrotherapy is a one of the more well known benefits of regular hot tub use for several reasons.

Firstly bathing in warm water naturally promotes relaxation and gives you a natural buoyancy or feeling of ‘weightlessness’. If you struggle with pain and inflammation in joints from injury or arthritis, then decreasing pressure on those sore joints is a natural pain reliever. If there are any gentle exercises that you’ve been recommended to ease your condition then these could be carried out during your hot tub session.

Secondly the combination of warm water plus soothing massage helps blood vessels dilate, improving circulation and sending healing red blood cells shooting round your body. This is particularly important if you’re suffering with an injury. 

The key take away here? Get out in your hot tub and feel your mental stress melt away as your physical pain eases.

Humans are social creatures. We thrive on contact and need to physically spend time with loved ones. Those who are more socially connected are found to generally be happier, physically healthier and live longer with fewer mental health issues. Isolation and loneliness on the other hand can be a contributory factor behind depression, stress and anxiety. Having somewhere to connect with loved ones is almost a buffer to safeguard our emotional wellbeing.

So why does a hot tub help with this? Our lives are much busier than ever and work and school has infiltrated home life, blurring the lines of separation. We tend to finish our days work, eat at separate times and then retreat into our phones and devices. Sitting down to dinner together without interruptions tends to be the exception rather than the norm. 

This is where hot tubs come in. They bring you back to the moment and provide the perfect arena for conversation as you unwind and re-connect with loved ones. Even teenagers might be persuaded to let go of their devices for a few minutes during a hot tub session and younger children LOVE spending time burning off energy in water, even if it’s not quite the calm ambience you were hoping for!. This family time (even with energetic young children) is crucial to keeping us calm, grounded and emotionally connected and is the perfect way to unwind if you are feeling the burn.

We sadly haven’t been able to physically connect with those outside our household for some time now. While we hope restrictions can be eased soon for all our sakes, we’ll likely have a period of time where we can only sit outdoors rather than gather inside. This can be a risky endeavour with our changeable British weather! A hot tub is the ideal space to entertain outdoors once we’re able to - you can even add a gazebo or covering to rain-proof your hot tub for use all year round!

So can a hot tub help improve your mental wellbeing? Whilst it’s certainly not a cure, a hot tub will encourage you to get outdoors, relieve stress induced tension, help you to sink into a more restful sleep, enable you to spend time with loved ones, manage pain and crucially stabilise your hormones, all of which contribute to a happier, more focussed state of mind. With many of us finding the current climate a challenge, a hot tub might just be exactly what the doctor ordered!

In short? Beat the isolation by investing in a hot tub and cultivating an outdoor space you can unwind in all year round. You’ll feel much better emotionally for it.

If you’d like to join the MySpa family then contact your closest showroom for more information and to help you narrow down to your dream hot tub.

MySpa Leicester: 0116 402 0915
MySpa Cheshire: 01625 919 150