Saturday, November 24, 2012

Washing away stress with shower therapy

A warm shower soothes the body and soul.
 I shower every day. Well, almost every day. In the winter, when my skin gets too dry, my doctor told me not to shower every day.

"Yuck," I said.

"Just wash the important parts," he responded.

Even yuckier. Yes, my doctor said that to me. Ha! And no, I didn't need him to tell me which are the important parts.

Well, he was right. Skipping a shower here and there was just what my dry skin needed.

Thank goodness, though, that I don't have to go without showering too frequently. Showering is good for me. And not just because when I shower I won't stink and people will like me better.

A good shower is great therapy.

How so? How did I arrive at this conclusion?

In early years of adulthood as a young mother, I thought showering was a time suck. I remember at one point even commenting how showering seemed such a waste of time. I wished for a better, quicker way to get and stay clean.

Every day, the same thing over and over. So routine, washing from top to bottom, head to toe. Necessary, but boring. I could be doing so many other more important things with that time.

No wonder I was bored with such a mundane task. Every other demand was so much more exciting for someone who wanted to move, move, move to get things done.

It truly was hard to multi-task in the shower. I was a resistant captive. All I could do then was wash quickly while worrying about what I could be doing instead of showering.

How could I relax in the shower when I had an impatient newborn waiting to breastfeed right outside the shower door in a rocking carry cradle? I stopped washing over and over to reach out to stick a pacifier in mouth and rock the cradle.

I had toddlers to tend to. I had laundry to do, meals to prepare.

Those days are long gone and shower time is no longer interrupted by wee little ones scurrying through my bathroom, asking me questions or wanting my attention.

No longer is a busy household waiting reluctantly for me to get out of the shower and make things happen for them.

All my children are adults now and one of them is even pregnant with our first grandbaby. I recently recounted for her some of the challenges showering when you have young children.

So she wouldn't think it was just her, I shared that every new mother should consider showering each day quite an accomplishment.

I can't remember for sure, though, when I made the switch in my thinking, but a shower for me is no longer a necessary evil, a waste of time. Now I view my shower more like a well-deserved luxury, something to anticipate and enjoy. 

Why the new outlook? With time, I've grown as a person and slowed down some with fewer expectations of all that I need to accomplish each day, so I don't think it's just that I have figured out how to multi-task in the shower.

Multi-task in the shower, you wonder? Yes, but it's not frantic overachieving. It's more like mindful meditation.

You've heard of the slow food movement? This is the "slow shower movement" that I engage in. Finally, I've coined a term! I googled to check...

My shower time is slow-moving brain time. Time to relax and and be with myself.

I get a lot done in the shower. What do I do there besides scrubbing and rinsing?

Scented natural soaps make me happy while I think in the shower.
As I soap up and let the water trickle over me,

I listen to my inner voice. I've written about my i.v. before.  A shower is a perfect quiet time to think about concepts I'm intrigued with: happiness, spirituality, positive thinking, being the best me I can be.

I can be tough on myself in the shower, and I don't mean that I'm roughing up my skin with the loofah. My inner voice pulls no punches and tells me like it is. And I listen because I know it's all good for me.

I think through issues and solve problems. How should I creatively handle this or that? What did I do right yesterday or today? What can I do better tomorrow?

Some of my most strategic and innovative ideas have come to me in the shower. It's amazing how some warm water and time alone can clear my head and foster productive thinking.

I rehearse dialogue. So now I've arrived at a solution, but it's all in my head. No solution is a good one if you can't effectively communicate. How will I handle an important conversation? What points should I make? Where will I stand strong and where am I willing to compromise?

My shower is a great place to strategically work it all out and practice diplomacy for effective win-win outcomes in all walks of my life.

I draft my to-do list. What do I need to accomplish today? What can I plan for tomorrow? What has to happen right now to keep our everyday life running as smoothly as possible? I can be practical.

But way more fun...

I write my blog. It's amazing how many ideas come to me under the shower head. I've written whole passages under water. Heck, I've written entire posts. Sometimes I'm so excited by a good idea that I ache to write it down. Sometimes I find the time to. Sometimes I don't.

I invent. Hey, there's an idea from within the shower walls! In my spare time, invent a shower widget for dictation and recording any great ideas I'm lucky enough to have. Now where's that spare time?

What else?

I daydream. In the shower, there's built-in time to imagine. Why does the red bird peck on my bathroom window every day, all day long? Does he see his reflection or want to come in? What should I make for a special dinner? Where should I hike this weekend? Where should I vacation next? What's my next adventure? What do I want to be when I grow up?

I accept what is and explore possibility. Reflecting in the shower lets me focus on the power of the present, define expectations I may have for myself, and plan for the future.

With no outside distractions, digging deep inside my soul, I can honestly assess my overall wellness, determine when I need to make a course correction to get myself back on a path, and figure out what I should do to manage any stress I may be experiencing.

I told you I get a lot done in the shower. I've learned to multi-task and use that time wisely, even if it's just to think about how damned good that warm water feels on my tired, achy body and soul.

I appreciate that I can shower every day. Not everyone is so fortunate and I know that.

I want to stay healthy for myself and those I love, so this reserved time has become for me a cathartic, restorative therapy of sorts, dedicated to slowing me down and enriching my day-to-day existence.

The cost is my time and maybe a higher water bill, but if it has saved me dollars in potential doctor bills or psychotherapy, then it's time and money well spent.

I take my time now. I relish the routine. Before I know it, I'm all clean. Inside and out.

The healing power of water renews not only my physical body, but also my spirit and soul, giving me energy in the morning to move on with my day, or in the evening, to settle a tired mind for a restful night's sleep.

Good shower therapy enables me to better use all the tools in my toolbox, helping me fret less and move past any worries to better live my life on this good earth.

I'm no mathematician, but here's a silly little formula for some good shower therapy:

Warm water/soap + time to think = clean (inside + out) = good mental health = < $$ (medical bills) =  life to the nth degree.

This math is working for me. How about you?

What's your shower deal? Time suck or time to renew? I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, yours in showering our way to a better world...Therese

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