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Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted? You are not alone. A recent study published in the National Institute of Health (NIH) found high rates of symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychological distress in adults around the world.
Mindfulness focuses on the now, being aware of your surroundings, emotions, thoughts, body and surroundings. It involves noticing the little things and activating your senses and soaking in smells, sights, sounds, and textures. Letting go of worries about the future and guilt from the past. Mindfulness is being fully present.
Transform your daily shower into a refreshing, mindful experience and allow your stress and tension to melt away. Instead of rushing through your shower, plan on spending an extra five to ten minutes to turn this routine into a treat and your shower into an oasis. Engage your senses and watch your stress wash away. Focus on smells and aromas, touch and textures, and sound and vibration to elevate your shower from a task to a relaxing, rejuvenating experience.
Smell and memory are closely linked because of the brain’s anatomy. Odors travel a direct route to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain. This system includes the hippocampus and the amygdala, the brain regions related to memories and emotions. Breathing in soothing aromas can connect us to positive, happy, comforting memories and experiences.
The most developed sense in a child is the sense of smell until around the age of 10, when sight becomes the strongest sense. Dawn Goldworm, a specialist in olfactory branding, explains that smell and emotion are often stored as one memory in childhood. In childhood, we often develop an association with smells that we will love or hate for the rest of our lives. Connect with happy childhood memories through aromatherapy in your shower.
The sense of smell is closely related to our emotions and connections. Research has shown that body odor, produced by the genes that make up our immune system, can help us subconsciously choose our partners. Some scientists believe that kissing developed from sniffing. The first kiss could be considered as primal behavior during which we smell and taste our partner to decide if they are a good match. Engage your emotions with comforting scents in your shower.
Prep your shower with your favorite soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shower bomb. Or fill the bathroom with the smell of your most relaxing essential oil in a diffuser. Aromas such as cinnamon, peppermint, pine, citrus, lavender, and rosemary can promote mindfulness and a feeling of being centered. Even the smell of fresh-cut grass and baby powder has been found to evoke positive memories and increase feelings of happiness. Fill your shower with your favorite scents and as your shower steams up, enjoy the soothing, relaxing power of aromatherapy.
Focus on Touch and Sensation
Start at the top with a head massage to help reduce tension, relieve stress, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, lower heart rate and ease migraine or headache pain. A scalp massage can even improve hair growth. Apply light to medium pressure on your head with your fingertips or a massage brush. Move around your scalp in small circular motions and experience instant relief and relaxation.
Hydrotherapy (water therapy) has been used for centuries. Cold showers may increase metabolism, lower stress and cortisol levels, reduce pain and improve circulation. Cold water may also decrease inflammation and swelling and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness after a tough workout.
Hot showers have the potential to improve both cardiovascular health and brain health. They provide better blood flow to joints and muscles and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. Hotter temperatures increase your heart rate, which may be lower if you are experiencing depression or sadness.
To improve your sleep, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends a hot shower before bed. Experiment with different water temperatures and find what works best for you. Warm, cool, cold, and hot can each change your shower experience.
In addition to water temperature, focus on tactile sensations such as the feeling of silky soap or the feeling of body scrubs to exfoliate your skin. Notice the textures and sensations. Touch is powerful because there are a lot of nerves in the skin and tissue.
Be present and aware as you massage your body from head to toe and soak in the feelings of peace and contentment. Massage turns off the sympathetic nervous system and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows us to feel relaxed and allows the body to function in a rest state. Through massage, the blood and lymph circulation is increased, and vital nutrients and oxygen move throughout the body to muscles and organs. Experience refreshment and relaxation as you mindfully wash and scrub from head to toe.
Listen to Sounds and Calm Your Vagus Nerve
Listen to the Natural Sound of Water
Sound therapy is an effective way to counteract the effect of stress. Researchers have discovered that the sound of water lowers cortisol secretion, which lowers stress. Take time to listen to the sound of water as you shower and lower your anxiety.
Listen to Music
Upbeat music can help you feel more alert and focused and can increase concentration. Music with a fast tempo can encourage feelings of optimism and positivity. Soothing music can help you relax and unwind.
Sing or Hum
The vibrations from singing or humming in the shower can calm the vagus nerve and treat depression and relieve pain. With your mouth closed, gently hum a sound, such as “om,” on every exhale. Inhale through your nose and repeat as you feel relaxation spread through your body.
Live in the Moment and Enjoy a Mindful Shower
You can transform your daily shower into a blissful spa experience by engaging your senses and focusing on mindfulness. Take time to breathe deeply and benefit from aromatherapy. Focus on touch, textures and sensations and benefit from hydrotherapy. Listen to the sound of water, music or your own soothing vibrations from singing or humming to lower stress and improve mood. Take time for yourself. You are worth it.