mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Image by Guille Faingold x mbg creative / Stocksy
September 27, 2023
The ways in which we take care of ourselves is deeply personal—the stolen moments of pause, the practices we turn to in times of stress, the unique rituals that speak to inner-selves. So in our series, Me Time, we’re exploring the cherished ways we care for our bodies, minds, and souls—plus, we’ll get into the science-backed reasons the rituals work, how to try it yourself, and insights from experts.
You can learn a lot about a person based on their bathroom habits, so what if I told you I can easily spend up to two hours in the bathroom on Sundays when I do my “everything shower”? That might sound like a lot, but to me, it’s two hours that I grant myself every week for a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual reset.
In lots of cultures, bathing rituals are seen as transformative experiences—so the concept of using a bath or shower to refuel your body and soul is not new. It’s a time honored practice, which makes my weekly habit all the more appealing to me.
So for this first installment of our new self care series, I wanted to dive into the science behind why these two hours felt so rejuvenating, and offer tips on what you can do at home (even if you don’t have two hours to spare). Here, why you might consider the “everything shower” next time you have some time to yourself.
What is an everything shower? The benefits of intentional bathing rituals
The term “everything shower” started bubbling up in the zeitgeist all thanks to TikTok, where the hashtag has racked up almost 8 million views. It’s what folks are calling showers where you do, well, anything and everything you can for personal care—as opposed to just the staples of your regular showers. They tend to be more thoughtful, time-consuming, and maybe even a bit indulgent.
For me, that looks like focusing on exfoliation and scalp rinses in the shower, adding extra ambience, and more (which I’ll get into later). But, of course, everything showers are totally personalizable.
And beyond just the benefits of getting your body physically clean, this self care ritual has mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits too—especially if you’re intentional about it.
Showers can be meditative
And there are many ways to fold meditation into your own life, which could include in the shower. I utilize a few practices to help me center myself. First, I turn on meditative music, which can make you feel more calm and at ease.
You can also utilize visualizations as another useful tool. For example, visualize that with the spray of the water, you’re simultaneously washing away your worries and stress.
“Present moment (or mindfulness) meditation trains us to move from thinking to sensing. Mindfulness meditation is something you can do almost anywhere,” writes meditation teacher Lily Silverton, RYT-400. “Bring your awareness to the physical sensations of the breath and the body: the rising and falling of the abdomen and chest or the feeling of the breath as it travels in and out the nostrils or mouth. You could also bring focus to any sounds or smells around you. Once you feel settled, bring your awareness to the thoughts and emotions, letting them come and then letting them go. Imagine each thought is like a cloud moving across a clear blue sky, always changing.”
The act of cleansing has mental health benefits
The act of cleansing—yes, even just simply washing your face or taking a regular shower—can actually impact your mental health. Research has shown1 that cleaning oneself is related to reductions in anxiety, even after stressful events.
“There is a big psychological component to washing off the day. I feel like I’ve left the stress of the day behind. There is also a symbolic cleansing of the day,” board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, M.D. tells mindbodygreen about the benefits of cleansing.
“When someone is taking care of themselves,” she adds, “it lowers cortisol levels. It’s going to raise all those positive molecules. And if you decrease cortisol, you lower your stress. It’s good for your mood, it’s good for healing, and it’s good for inflammation2.”
Water temperatures—both warm & cold—have full-body benefits
And I always end with a good cold splash not just to help seal my hair shaft and prevent frizz, but because it makes me feel super good.
Just don’t make the water too warm, as scorching water strips the skin of its natural oils and can disrupt the skin barrier.
Creates an at home spa-experience on a budget
Spas and wellness centers are wonderful places to find community, care, and relax. But they’re not accessible to everyone or every budget. And in general, showering is one of the simplest and most accessible ways to carve out relaxation time to pamper yourself and give yourself some love.
By the time I wrap up the post-shower stuff like moisturizing, plucking my eyebrows, and massaging my scalp, I feel completely refreshed—like everything that built up over the past week has been washed clean and I’m ready to tackle whatever the coming week has in store.
How to create a shower experience that can boost your mood
The set up:
You can tailor your bathroom to whatever your everything shower needs are—the point is to do it mindfully and with intention.
I like to set the tone of my everything showers with lighting, music, and aromatherapy, for instance. With the overhead lights off, fairy lights on, an ambient playlist rolling, and a peppermint shower steamer warming up, my bathroom transforms into a spa.
Once the vibes are right, I do all my pre-shower steps like combing my hair, trimming my nails, and laying out my fluffiest bathrobe and slippers.
In the shower:
Once the water’s warmed up, the real fun begins. There are honestly so many things to be done in an everything shower it makes more sense to just list ’em out:
- Exfoliate face
- Wash face
- Scalp rinse
- Deep conditioner/hair mask
- Pumice stone
- Exfoliate body
- Wash body
- Final rinse with cold water
As you go through each step, pay mindful attention to what you’re doing, moving slowly and with ease. This is not a shower to be rushed, but one to savor.
And not only that, but during the final rinse, I like to incorporate an energetic cleansing visualization for added benefit. Simply imagine the water that’s cleaning your body is also cleaning your mind and your spirit, washing away any impurities, difficulties, stresses, or lingering troubles.
In my mind, the everything shower isn’t truly over until you’re out of the bathroom, and the post-shower routine is how you close out the ritual. For me, it includes a face mask followed up by moisturizing from head-to-toe. I also like to use a hair growth serum bolstered with a drawn-out scalp massage to help stimulate hair growth.
The less glamorous points in the post-shower routine include brushing and flossing my teeth, plucking my eyebrows, and cleaning out my ears.
And once it’s all said and done, the cherry on top is relaxing in your bathrobe afterwards, relishing in the peace and calm you’ve created for yourself.
My everything shower essentials:
When stress strikes, we can’t always run off to the woods, book a retreat, or even make it to a yoga class. But more often than not, what we can do is take a shower and leave our worries at the bathroom door for a while. And when you carve out that extra time for an everything shower regularly and reset for the week ahead, life and all that comes with it feels so much more manageable.