For Tania Taylor, a clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, it’s not about the expensive lotions and potions you use, but the power of ritual. It’s committing to this practice and the process of taking time out for yourself that provides the most benefit.
“Rituals, routines, and habits have long been known to have a positive effect on our well-being because they support us in feeling safe, confident, and comfortable,” she explains. “We thrive from knowing that the behavior we exhibited previously resulted in no danger, and so we strive to repeat behaviors that we perceive as being beneficial to us, whether this be relating to self-care or just the way in which we switch off the lights and lock the door when we leave our home.”
In other words, an “Everything Shower” may offer you a little respite from your busy world of competing commitments.
Ali Ross, psychotherapist, and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) says it’s an opportunity to not only press pause on a busy schedule, but to treat yourself with kindness and self-compassion.
“This ritual encourages us to take our time, be attentive and responsive, and it has the potential to be a deeply self-compassionate, meditative practice. It allows you to slow down, gather yourself, and understand where you’re at in your day/week/life,” he says.
The benefits aren’t only related to what’s going on in your mind. Our minds and bodies aren’t distinct identities, but rather they go hand in hand, and taking care of one, can often lead to an improvement in the other.
One such example of this is the correlation between poor personal hygiene and diagnoses of anxiety and depression.
“Poor personal hygiene can indicate a person is experiencing difficulties, whereas self-soothing through bathing is recognized as being particularly beneficial for our mental health,” Taylor points out.
She believes the benefits of touch shouldn’t be underestimated. “Research demonstrates that when we feel cared for and use physical touch, we encourage the production of important hormones (oxytocin and endorphins) involved in making us feel good.”
In turn, Taylor says this can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the “Everything Shower” is that it’s accessible for most of us. Taking a lengthy shower and washing off the stresses of the day is already a regular part of many people’s routines, so it’s an easy ritual to adapt or add to.
In this sense, Taylor says the “Everything Shower” is about re-working current routines, instead of re-inventing the wheel, and Ross agrees.
“The ‘Everything Shower’ is something that many people are already doing and so it validates them and permits them to continue with the ritual or even add more elements to it without feeling over-indulgent,” Ross says.
He adds, “It feels good to ritualize, and the more public approval it gets, the less justification people need to give themselves this time in their own company, performing such a compassionate, presence-capturing ritual.”
So, is adding the “Everything Shower” to your mental health toolbox a worthwhile endeavor?
“As long as you are able to include an ‘Everything Shower’ in your life in a way that makes you feel safe, calm, and comfortable there’s no reason why you shouldn’t,” says Taylor.
That said, she believes you can have too much of a good thing, and says the trick is to remain mindful.
“If a positive activity becomes too routine then the mindfulness benefits may wear off,” she explains. “If you find this part of your routine becoming more of a habit than a ritual, you may stop paying attention and being in the moment, and your mind may wander.”
Ross shares a similar sentiment. He says, “As soon as any ritual becomes prescriptive it has the danger of becoming counterproductive because we feel we ‘should’ be performing it.”
It’s also important to remember that a long, hot shower can only do so much. It might alleviate some stress and tension at the moment, and give you a much-needed time out, but it won’t treat more acute mental health issues or get to the root cause of them.
“An ‘Everything Shower’ should be one tool in your mental health toolkit, not your only tool,” warns Taylor.
You may need more advanced mental health support like therapy or medication from a healthcare professional.
There are countless ways you can complement the ‘Everything Shower’ trend as well. A few habits Taylor believes can prove beneficial include enjoying a hobby, spending more time with friends and family, and walking in green spaces.
Mental health is a complex matter and there certainly isn’t one fail-safe way to manage it. Rather, good mental health is often the grand sum of lots of rituals, not just one.
However, one thing is certain: when you need a stress-relieving quick fix, an “Everything Shower” certainly won’t hurt.