The UK is a nation of shower lovers, with one in three Brits preferring a shower to a glass of wine, eating chocolate or sex with a partner.
That’s why shower gel experts Original Source have partnered with award winning mental health and wellbeing psychiatrist, Doctor David McLaughlan to explore the mental health benefits of a restorative shower.
Dr David McLaughlan says: “Whether it’s a quick splash and dash or a long steamy one, the shower is a great place to show yourself some love. Research has shown that sensory stimulation with sights, sounds, and smells can promote mental and physical recovery. With the world opening up again, taking some time for yourself is more important than ever!”
Here are Dr David’s recommendations on positions to stimulate the mind, body and soul in the shower
- Turn down the temperature
Taking a cold shower can be a great way to waken you up, make you feel alert and ready for the day. Ease in slowly by running your shower at your usual temperature. Then, after a few minutes, gradually turn down the dial so you are in the blue zone.
Benefit: Research has shown that cold showers have all sorts of health benefits for both the body and mind. When you turn down the temperature, you can help stimulate white blood cells which contribute to a healthy immune system. There is also evidence to suggest that exposure to cold water regulates production of the stress hormone cortisol, which contribute to mood and anxiety disorders.
- Massage your muscles
When we’re stressed, many of us will involuntarily contract muscles in our body without even realising. It can affect our posture and body language, influencing the way we interact with other people. Let the water from the shower run down your body and use your fingers to massage tense areas – start with your calves and work your way up all the way to your shoulders and neck.
Benefit: This massage will trigger the brain to release a chemical messenger called oxytocin – the transmitter which is involved in making you feel safe, cared for and relaxed.
- Focus on your senses
Look directly into the shower head and allow the water to splash on your face. Notice the difference in sensations of the water pressure on different parts of your body.
Benefit: Focusing on individual feelings like the feeling of water on your face can help to relieve any emotional fatigue you may be experiencing and restore a sense of calm to your mental wellbeing. Many of our anxious thoughts are based in the future with negative predictions of things which might happen. A lot of our depressive thoughts are based in the past, for example ruminating or replaying bad things in our minds which have already happened. Focusing our attention on sense of touch and temperature helps connect us to the world around us and grounds us in the present moment, where we can find peace and pleasure.
- Get into position
Got a big day ahead of you? While you are under the running water, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips to help you to feel empowered to fearlessly face the day ahead.
Benefit: The position of our body can influence how we feel about ourselves and how are perceived by other people. Assertively occupying a comfortable body position sends a signal to ourselves and the world around us that we are worthy.
- Repeat positive affirmations
Our minds are like muscles; we can train them to have more positive thoughts. While you are enjoying the water flow from the shower, practice positive affirmations such as ‘I am strong’ and ‘I can do this’.
Benefit: Affirmations help with self-esteem and support us in forming more healthy relationships with others around us. It’s important that you are in a positive frame of mind to really achieve your goals and repeating positive phrases can help enforce this.
- Show yourself some self appreciation before you jump in
Take a moment to look in your bathroom mirror and recognise what you like about yourself and your body, before you jump in the shower.
Benefit: From a young age, many of us are conditioned to believe that our value and self-worth is linked to our appearance. Taking time to remind yourself of what you like about your body helps reframe that value system and appreciate the functional value of the body.