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What Is Bathing For?

By Ann Richardson March 31, 2024 Lifestyle

I am exceedingly clean. I take a shower every morning and a bath every night. I wash in all the right places. My mother would be proud of me. But all this bathing has nothing to do with getting clean.

There are so many other reasons to pursue these activities.

The Morning Shower

I used to wake up bright and shiny and ready for the day. Indeed, I would wake up so fully alert that I knew there was nothing for it but to get up and do something – usually work. Even at 5 a.m.

I would trot up to my study (I was self-employed), pull out whatever I was working on the day before and carry on – usually writing something. By the time my husband woke at the more normal hour of 7 a.m. or so, I could tell him I had done two billable hours.

I loved this time – it was so peaceful. In the summer months, it was already bright outside.

This early waking was particularly frequent during menopause, when hot flushes (hot flashes in the US) suffused my body in the early hours of the morning. That was a long time ago.

Alas, no more. I wake up feeling very sluggish and sometimes fall back asleep or fall into that hazy land that is neither awake nor asleep. It sounds nice, but I don’t really like it all that much.

And when I finally crawl out of bed at 8.30 or 9.00 am, I need something to wake me up. For most people, this is strong coffee.

For me, it is a hot shower.

There is nothing like the pounding of water all over your body to wake up your nerves and help you feel alert. I am no longer sluggish. My mind has switched into gear. I am ready for the day.

Getting clean is just a happy by-product.

The Evening Bath

So I go through my day, whether visiting friends, writing, cooking or any number of other things we old people do with our lives. All good.

I am never bored. There are more things to do with my time than time to do them. Sometimes, I am out visiting or doing errands. Or, on the weekends, welcoming one of my grandchildren.

Once a week, I do my yoga, which is important to me. I have been practising yoga for over 30 years and really love it, particularly headstands.

But at the end of the day, whatever the business of that day, I am very tired. I need to get some energy. Sometimes, my whole body aches with general weariness. In the summer, I need to cool off. In the winter, I need to get warm. All reasons for a bath.

So, I run my bath and have a soak. It is delicious feeling the hot water – and I like it very hot (damn the expense) – seep into my pores. It is relaxing and energising at the same time. I find myself far away.

I often lie there and think. And, strangely enough, a lot of my best ideas for articles come to me there. Being in water seems to stimulate my brain cells. Immediately after, I am often in search of some paper to write down the ideas before I forget them.

It is a very special time. Quiet time. Me time. My husband knows he shouldn’t disturb me unless it is an emergency.

And getting clean is just a happy by-product of the whole experience.

The Small Things in Life

I have written recently about how trivial things can be incredibly annoying. A number of readers agreed.

But trivial things can also be incredibly rewarding. You can have your cruise or your once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world.

Just give me a shower in the morning and a bath in the evening, and I am a happy woman!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you like a shower or a bath? Why? Do you see these as simply a means to get clean or is there more to it than that?

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Teresita Abad

I like a bath. This gives me time to think and appreciate the time that I have for it. It also makes me feel “thankful” for what happened with my day.

DebraLynn WA

I still have night sweats, so I shower quickly each morning. While my skin is damp after the shower, I put on lotion or body oil to keep it moist. I would love to be a bath person; it seems so relaxing and contemplative, but once I get in, I want to get out almost immediately. I work out most days, so I take a quick shower after workouts.


As an 85-year-old, I am so happy to be able to get in and out of the bathtub. A lot of my younger friends can’t. I love to take Epsom salt bubble baths. I love getting in as hot of water as I can stand and soak for an hour or so. Also, the Magnesium in Epsom Salt is good for you.


Amen. Same here. Sometimes throw in a little aromatherapy and candles.


I am the proverbially “fish to water.” Born under a water sign, Pisces, I have always loved the feeling of being submerged whether in the tub, hot tub, snorkeling of just enjoying the ocean waves wash over me on a beach. Water feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket or a refreshing pick me up. Thanks for the reminder.

The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

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