For centuries, the natural properties of water have been recognised for their healing and restorative powers. From the Ancient Greeks to the Victorians, taking to the water has been seen as a cure for all types of ailments. In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it still offers an oasis of serenity away from the hustle and bustle of an increasingly busy world. And nowhere more so than in the personal sanctuary of your shower.
We asked Naomi Jones at Aquarii Holistics in Cheltenham why showering plays such an important role in modern day wellbeing. As a qualified holistic therapist, Naomi understands better than most the wellbeing effects of water. “Showering can be beneficial to both your mental and physical health” she says “It can both help get you going for the day and help to wash away the stresses of daily life right before bed.”
Some like it hot
“Having a hot shower can help to sooth stiff joints and help with supporting a good night’s sleep” continues Naomi. In fact, research has shown that a warm or hot shower an hour or so before bed actually cools your body’s internal temperature down. Something that’s essential for all of us if we want to get the best possible night’s sleep. It’s also psychologically beneficial as it helps us mentally shed the day that’s gone before. Providing a personal space for mindfulness and reflection along the way.
The transformative power of a cold shower is gaining more and more recognition. Since the arrival of extreme adventurer Wim Hof on our screens, cold therapy in general has become much more an accepted part of wellbeing treatment. “A cold shower is great for reducing inflammation” comments Naomi. “It helps re-regulate your nervous system and reduce stress levels.”
Other benefits include a stronger immune system, with one study showing that a 30-second cold shower every day for 60 days can cut your number of sick days by 30%. Reports of increased dopamine, serotonin and b- endorphin levels all support the theory that cold showers are also a mood enhancer.
Naomi is also keen to stress the difference mood boosting essential oils can make to your showering experience. “Eucalyptus is always a great choice of essential oil especially in the morning” she says. “It helps to open up your lungs and give you that kick you need to get going for the day!” Of course, come evening time when we want to wind down and get ready for bed, we need something more soothing. “Lavender is also a great essential oil choice especially for in the evening” suggests Naomi. “It helps to relax the mind and body and improves sleep.”
Eucalyptus and lavender are just two of the many scents that stimulate the limbic system in our brains. That’s the area responsible for our emotional states. So using the right essential oils in your shower can make a real difference to your day.
Get the massage
Of course, one of the real pleasures of showering is the cascade of pummelling jets that massage and soothe your tired muscles. Why does it feel so good? “A combination of water flow and temperature actually stimulates blood circulation” explains Naomi. “This enhances the flow of blood around the body, meaning more of the good stuff by way of oxygen and nutrients reaches your muscles and organs. On the one hand, this boosts energy levels and on the other, helps remove toxins. So it’s a real win-win!”
If your shower isn’t delivering on the power front, try giving the shower head a good scrub. If that doesn’t do the trick, then make sure the water isolators on your property are fully open. Or you could try investing in a quality shower head and mixing taps that ensure optimal experience for years to come.
A haven of tranquillity
In a world of constant stimulus – whether that’s from social media or the latest must-see boxset – it seems that finding time alone is becoming harder than ever. “It’s important that we disconnect from the world around us in order to properly connect with ourselves” Naomi reminds us. “Even just ten minutes or so a day where we can take time out to be in the moment away from all distractions is a healthy routine to develop.”
The shower, as it turns out, is the ideal place to do this. “The sound of running water and the feel of it upon your skin can be very therapeutic” Naomi explains. “It’s the perfect backdrop to clear your mind and focus your thoughts. By doing so you’ll be amazed how it gives you a fresh take on issues that could be making you anxious or worried.”
A well of creativity
We all know the story of Archimedes shouting ‘Eureka’ as he was struck by inspiration in the bath. Well a shower can have a similar effect. Whilst we can’t claim you’ll come up with a new universal law of physics, it’s certainly true that being in the shower can help boost creative thinking. “In the shower, you’re much more likely to let you mind wander” adds Naomi. “As it does so, you may be surprised just what it comes up with. Along with all the other stimulating properties we’ve discussed about showering, it creates a very fertile space for creative thinking.”
Showering is so much more than a practical task we must perform on a daily basis. We may not realise it, but the shower in our bathroom is a genuine hub for physical health, mental wellbeing and creative thought. By harnessing the natural healing properties of water, we can set ourselves up for a more positive approach at the beginning of the day – and more relaxed frame of mind as we get ready for sleep.