A woman relaxes in her bath surrounded by candles

Salt Baths and Other Stress-Relief Techniques

We recently had a discussion on LungCancer.net’s Facebook page about ways to relax, despite our cancer diagnoses. There were many good ideas and I thought I would share some of them here.

How do you relax?

Among the most popular comments arising from our discussion were reading, watching TV or movies, and knitting or crocheting. Many in our community seem to be very generous. They use their time, energy, money and skill making hats or scarves to share at their cancer clinics.

I wish I knew how to knit or crochet. Crochet is on my list of things to learn. I understand you can learn how to do it on YouTube. (What can’t you learn to do on YouTube?!)

People who relax by watching TV often recommend the Hallmark Channel. Those movies are nearly always “feel good” and have happy endings. I enjoy watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I tend to watch religious-based movies that also have upbeat themes. I haven’t done it yet, but lots of my friends have binge-watched Grace and Frankie on Netflix. Apparently, it is a very entertaining series.

Relaxing with salt baths and essential oils

A few people mentioned that they enjoy taking salt baths to relax. This is not a relaxation technique that I hear about often when talking to lung cancer patients, but it is one that I think more of us should consider.

I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few recipes for relaxing salt baths and essential oil diffusion blends. Before I give you the recipes, though, I want to give several warnings about using essential oils:

  1. The oils that are available at your local discount store are generally adulterated and could be dangerous. If you are going to use essential oils, please make sure that they are purchased from a reputable company that has every batch tested for purity. If they don’t share what is called a GC/MS report with you for specific batches of oils, look for another company from whom to purchase your oils. One of my favorites is Plant Therapy. They have reasonable prices, a good selection, provide GC/MS reports performed by a reputable lab, and they offer free shipping. (This is not an affiliate link so I am not making any commission off of this recommendation.)
  2. When using essential oils in your bath, choose carefully! Some oils, for instance, peppermint, are hot and will burn! I suggest that you stick to gentle oils like lavender.
  3. Do not place oils directly into the bathtub and, except in the most exceptional cases, do not apply them directly to your skin without first diluting them in a carrier of some kind.

Salt bath recipes

Bath Salt Recipe #1

This recipe makes enough for two baths.

  • 2 ounces (56 grams) of salt (sea salt, Epsom, or Himalayan salts are awesome choices)
  • 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap (you can buy this at Walmart or Target or many drugstores) You could alternatively use oil like sweet almond or extra virgin olive oil, but it will make your bathtub very slippery.
  • 8 drops of lavender essential oil (lavender is skin-nourishing, calming and soothing)
  • 4 drops of frankincense essential oil (frankincense is skin-nourishing and grounding)

First, mix the essential oils into the liquid castile soap. Next, thoroughly mix the salt and soap together.

To use, spoon one ounce of the mixture into a warm bath. Keep the remainder in a jar to use in your next bath.

Warning: Do not use all the mixture in a single bath unless you reduce the amount of essential oils used. If you want to use the full two ounces of the mixture in one bath, use only 4 drops of lavender and 1 drop of frankincense.

Bath Salt Recipe #2

This recipe is for a single bath and uses no essential oils.

  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • Tub full of warm water

Dissolve no more than two cups of Epsom salt into your warm bath water. Soak for 20-30 minutes. Rinse afterward to make sure you get all of the salt off of your body. Increase your relaxation by first thoroughly blending 5 or 6 drops of lavender essential oil into the Epsom salt before adding to your bath.

Anxiety Relieving Diffuser Blend

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil (balancing and soothing)
  • 2 drops of frankincense essential oil (grounding and calming)
  • 1 drop of mandarin (or sweet orange) essential oil (bright and uplifting)

Add the drops to water in an ultrasonic diffuser and enjoy!

Share your self-care tips!

We are always interested to hear from you. What helps you relax when you’re anxious or your cancer treatments are getting to you? Please let us know in the comments. Sharing helps all of us! (And, if you're interested in more recipes similar to the ones here, let us know that, too!)

(Disclaimer: I am currently studying to become a certified aromatherapist. I couldn't decide on which certification classes to take so I signed up for classes through multiple schools. I am learning through Tisserand Institute, Aromahead, and New York Institute for Aromatic Studies.)

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