This article is part of SELF’s Rest Week, an editorial package dedicated to doing less. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally, is impossible without genuine downtime. With that in mind, we’ll be publishing articles up until the new year to help you make a habit of taking breaks, chilling out, and slowing down. (And we’re taking our own advice: The SELF staff will be OOO during this time!) We hope to inspire you to take it easy and get some rest, whatever that looks like for you.
You don’t often hear showers described as “luxurious.” Baths get all the glory when it comes to lavish lathering, whereas showers are typically utilitarian: You hop in, you get the job done, and you get on with your life. A routine shower can be refreshing and soothing, of course, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like self-care. If your days are jam-packed, showering can feel like yet another thing on your to-do (or don’t-have-time-to-do) list. Many of us squeeze in showers before work, at the gym, or during other busy times, so they’re often rushed. (I don’t know about you, but I never feel fully relaxed if the clock is ticking).
The only truly relaxing showers I take are after my Sunday morning runs. Not only is my body sweaty, spent, and craving a steady stream of pressurized hot water, but, by then, I’ve typically gotten most of my weekend chores out of the way, so I can enjoy my most coveted luxury of all: time. When I can take my time, suddenly my mind is less focused on whatever I have to do next, shaving my legs is less tedious, and I’m actually content to be right where I am.
The way I genuinely look forward to end-of-week showers got me thinking not only about ways to level up their luxury, but also about how I might bring some of their revitalizing energy to my everyday routine—even when I’m busy. Whether you’re hopping in for a quickie or you have all the time in the world, I hope this list of tips—sourced from experts and my life—helps make your showering experience a little more luxurious, and a lot more relaxing.
1. Focus your attention on what’s right in front of you.
Mindfulness has been shown to have a de-stressing effect on the mind and body, as SELF previously reported, but you don’t have to do a formal meditation practice to reap some of those relaxing benefits. “Informal mindfulness practice can also look like simply tuning into your senses during mundane tasks, like taking a shower,” Beverly Ibeh, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist with Thrive Psychology Group who specializes in mindfulness-based therapy, tells SELF.
To have a more mindful shower, take stock of your thoughts, Dr. Ibeh says. Maybe, at first, you’re rehearsing for a work presentation, worrying about your post-shower plans, or anxiously replaying something that happened in the past. By simply noticing your thoughts, you can get a bit of distance from them, which can make it easier to bring your attention to your environment, Dr. Ibeh explains.