By: Pam Rossow
Suffering from an intense bout of writer’s block? Have you changed your location, played ambient sounds, and still don’t have ideas? It’s time for an intervention. Strip off your clothes. Get to it.
Researchers have discovered there’s something about showering that helps your mind disengage and allows it to come up with creative ideas and solutions.
According to Shelley H. Carson, a psychologist and Harvard researcher, a distraction can be a needed cognitive break that helps your mind stop fixating on solutions that won’t work.[i] A shower is one type of brain timeout that is probably already part of your daily routine.
The following are three ways a shower jumpstarts the creative process:
Like daydreaming, taking a shower relaxes the prefrontal cortex which is your brain’s command center for behavior, goals, and decision making.
As part of this relaxation, alpha waves are released that ripple throughout your brain just like when you’re spacing out looking up at the clouds or meditating.
Alphas are part of your brain’s daydreaming setting and they can spark creativity. Along with alphas, dopamine is released.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with creative thought and is triggered in response to feeling good like taking a shower, exercising, or driving home from work.
There’s something about being the shower in an enclosed, small space that makes you feel safe. Safe enough to take your clothes off!
It might even be the only time in your day that you have time alone and can escape outside stresses. If you’re a busy mom of little ones, you know this is true!
When you feel relaxed, your brain can journey inward and you can make connections without even realizing it until the light bulb turns on and your great ideas surface.
The warm water and comforting shower space lends enough distraction that your brain goes on a little vacay. This permits your subconscious to kick in and work on the problem or roadblock.
Showering is a form of mindfulness in which you are engaged but not bored and the five to ten minutes is long enough for you to experience uninterrupted thought.
Physically removing yourself from your cell phone or computer can be just enough time for your mind to arrive at a brilliant insight. The answer has probably been there the whole time. You just couldn’t quite tap into it.
So the next time you are stumped, take a shower. If the shower is your best thinking space, you may want to invest in a showerproof notepad and pencil so you can jot down ideas as they arrive. Check out this inexpensive solution.
If showering is out of the question, head outside on your lunch break and spend some time daydreaming while looking up at the clouds. It has a similar effect and can be just as refreshing.
What’s your favorite way to come up with new ideas when you feel stuck? Comment below and check out my Instagram @pamrossow. I post weekly Insta Stories to help you write better and/or boost productivity for creatives.