The Power of the Shower

You’ve heard of the terms “cold shower,” “bridal shower,” and “sun shower,” but have you ever heard of “shower thoughts?”

Shower thoughts are the thoughts that pop into your mind while doing something mundane, like, well, taking a shower, planting a flower pot, or driving.

They’re the little “aha” moments that occur when you are occupied doing one thing, and you suddenly realize you’ve come up with an unrelated idea that is innovative and creative, or have stumbled upon a unique way of thinking about a problem.

In the book Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, her daughter talked about the deep, relaxing thoughts she comes up with in the shower. The shower is a “magical portal of ideas – it’s like I don’t have any ideas all day but when I get in the shower, my brain is full of cool stuff.” Glennon replies by saying it could be the water, “or could it be that the shower’s the only place you’re not plugged in so you can hear your own thoughts?”

When we take nice, long, hot showers, we relax. A relaxed mind can wander, suddenly finding solutions to some of the little — and not so little — dilemmas we are facing.

Maybe you:

  • figured out the perfect can’t-get-to-the-store gift to send to your sister for her big birthday;
  • imagined the perfect way to say thank you to your clients;
  • remembered a safe and socially-distanced mini-vacation you can go on for the holidays with friends, or;
  • discovered a solution to having your family over safely.

You can have some of your smartest, most creative, and wittiest ideas in the shower, as well as some of your most profound philosophical thoughts.

Why does this happen? Dopamine, that’s why. It’s a chemical in your brain that affects your emotions, and it gets triggered when we do relaxing things like exercising, listening to music, and taking warm showers.

Harvard researcher Shelley Carson says, “All of these provide distraction, and a distraction may be just the break our brain needs to come up with some pretty creative solutions for the problems that are irking us. A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’

Like everyone else, I have had a lot weighing on my mind since the pandemic started. I have a tendency to put a lot of stress on myself by setting unrealistic weekly goals, and then having to play catchup if I fall behind. The other day, when I was doing my early morning workout, I realized how sometimes things just need time for all the kinks to get worked out.

I felt grateful to be on a good path and a good pace for where I am in life — right where I’m supposed to be! This sudden whoosh of gratitude “showered” down on me and helped me start my day off right. And then it was literally time for my shower. 😊

What was your last shower thought?