A nice soak in a hot bath seems to do wonders for the mind and body — especially if there's a bath bomb involved. But if you're one of the less-lucky people like myself whose apartment is home to a humble shower alone with no tub in sight, that particular form of stress relief isn't accessible. Thankfully, there are a whole bunch of shower hacks to reduce anxiety that can legit work wonders and make your shower experience much more luxurious.
And honestly, even if you have a bathtub, a full-blown soak isn't always a reasonable option when you're rushing to get yourself out of the house in the morning. Most days, my bathing routing is a lot more "I'm-doing-this-for-basic-hygiene" than it is "spa-like stress-relief" vibes, and half the time I'm in an insane rush, which only adds to day-to-day anxiety.
But showers can (and should be!) more than just a necessary part of your routine. They can be a valuable time for you calm yourself, help get your anxiety in check, and have a moment of you time. Check out the following shower facts and hacks that will make your daily rinse a little more anxiety-relieving and enjoyable.
A Hot Shower Is The Ideal Muscle Relaxer
You know what's got a similar vibe to a sauna? A hot shower. Hot water and steam serve as an instant muscle relaxer, soothing built-up tension and loosening up muscles that can tense up due to stress and anxiety. Stimulating your senses with a warm shower is also linked to a boost in levels of feel-good hormone oxytocin, so don't be afraid to crank the heat and let yourself enjoy the soothing benefits for an extra few minutes.
Improve Your Mood (And Circulation) With A Cold Shower
Hot showers are nice and all, but don't sleep on the benefits of a refreshing, cold rinse! A cold shower (even a short one) is shown to increase circulation throughout the body, which will help wake you up and make you feel more alert and energized. During a cold shower, your body also releases endorphins, known as one of our "happy" hormones. Cold showers in the form of hydrotherapy are even used to treat depression, according to Peter Bongiorno, an author and naturopathic doctor. "I recommend patients with depression to use brief whole-body exposure to cold water in the form of a cold shower," Bongiorno told Psychology Today. He noted that patients could start with a regular hot shower and slowly lower the temperature over the course of several minutes. And no need to go full-freezing — even just a minute or two of a cold rinse at the end of your shower can bring on benefits.
Get Aroma Therapeutic With Essential Oils
Using essential oil aromatherapy in the shower can be a great way to reduce anxiety — think calming scents like lavender, frankincense, or vetiver. If you have a diffuser, set it up in the bathroom to release your scent of choice throughout your shower. If not, simply do a DIY oil steam by putting up to 15 drops onto a cotton ball and placing it of the floor of your shower (just make sure it's in an area where it won't be in the water's direct stream!). The shower's steaminess will naturally release the oils in the cotton ball for major stress-relieving aromatherapy.
Grab A Shower Tab
Think of these as the shower equivalent of a bath bomb. If you want the benefits of aromatherapy without having to invest in essential oils, there are lots of variations of shower tablets on the market that will steam in your shower, filling it with a gorgeous scent while also offering the anxiety-reducing benefits of natural essential oils. Try a lavender scent for ultimate calming, spa-like effects.
Green-ify Your Shower Experience
Indoor plants instantly liven up a room, and apparently they can actually make you feel happier. According to NBC News, studies show that indoor plants can actually improve your mood and lower stress — so why not bring the benefits into the shower with you? Set up a house plant on a shower shelf or hang it from your ceiling - whatever works best in your space. Certain indoor plants thrive in the humidity caused by showers, so choose one that's compatible with the amount of light and condensation in your bathroom.
Turn On The Tunes
While some quiet time to clear your head is always good, shower time can also be the perfect time to put on some feel-good music. Make a mini-playlist of songs that you know will boost your mood — and be sure to sing along! Singing is actually proven to release endorphins, so make that shower your own personal karaoke booth and leave with the benefits. If that's not your style, go for the more spa-like route and choose some meditative tracks that will zen you out.
Mix Things Up With A Massage
If you're anxious and tense, it might be worth it to replace your shower head with an extendable one that has various massage options. They're relatively inexpensive and can usually be installed without too much trouble, and most have multiple settings that you can set for whatever type of massage you need. Adding a quick hydro-massage into your shower time is sure to up the stress-relief factor.
Lather Up In Luxury
The products you choose can be used aroma-therapeutically as well! Splurge on high-quality, toxin-free body wash and hair care products that feel and smell luxurious. Many brands incorporate true essential oils into their products, making them smell incredible and potentially bring the benefits of aromatherapy. Treat yourself!
Don't Get Behind On Time
OK, typically clocks only bring me more anxiety — but when you just want to enjoy your shower, knowing what time it is at all times will allow you to relax more. If you have limited time to get ready or end up showering in a rush, having a clock there so you can pace yourself and always be aware of what time it is will be a huge stress-reliever, and will allow you to maximize your time without being anxious that you'll make yourself late. You'll never again have to stress about whether or not your shower is taking too long (and won't risk trying to grab your phone off the counter with wet, slippery hands to check the time).