The shower is a great place to contemplate. Underneath the hot water we can relax and let our minds unwind, but where exactly do they wander?
We took to Reddit to discover what the 23.6 million members of r/showerthoughts think about most while they’re in the shower!
Top 10 Shower Thoughts
The number one shower thought goes global. The world came up a total of 207 times making it the most popular thought people have in the shower. With so much going on in the news that affects us globally, it’s no wonder that the world crosses our minds when we let them wander.
The big picture pondering continues! Life was a topic that appeared 172 times – and for good reason. The meaning of life is one of the big philosophical questions, and with global issues like climate change and a pandemic clouding our thoughts, what better place to puzzle life out than in the shower?
Of course, not everyone is a shower-time philosopher. Some of us have one thing on our minds – food. Whether you’re figuring out what to have for breakfast while you have your morning shower or thinking about all the great food you’ve eaten that day, food crossed our minds 98 times. Breakfast does seem to be on our minds most in the shower – cereal and egg appeared 19 times each, while bread and cheese both appeared 13 times as common shower thoughts.
Who doesn’t wonder what the future holds? The shower is a great place to ponder what the future may look like, whether you’re imagining flying cars and spaceships or simply what kind of adventures you’d like to go on next. The future appeared 83 times in r/showerthoughts.
Have you ever tried to take a shower with a pet in the house? Sometimes pets don’t want to leave us alone, even for the 5 minutes it takes to enjoy a shower! Even if your pets don’t join you in the bathroom, chances are your mind will wander to what they’re doing or making sure that they’re set up for the day. There were 82 shower thoughts dedicated to man’s best friend, dogs.
6. Kids & Work
Not every shower thought can be fanciful, and our minds will inevitably wander to our responsibilities. Kids and work are two of the biggest responsibilities we think about. Perhaps you worry about what trouble your kids are getting into while you enjoy your shower, or you’re thinking about getting them ready for the school run, but 80 shower thoughts were dedicated to kids and 42 to children.
Taking time to mentally prepare for the day ahead is important, and the shower is a great place to gather your thoughts about work. Whether you’re ordering your to-do list or simply thinking about the commute, work accounted for 80 shower thoughts.
The most essential part of any shower – the water. It stands to reason that water is one of the most popular shower thoughts! We’re fussy when it comes to water – the temperature and the pressure being slightly off can ruin a shower, and 72 shower thoughts were dedicated to getting things just right.
Family matters can dominate our thoughts, and if you’ve got family issues on your mind you may find that puzzling them out in the shower can be a great help. From teens worrying about being in trouble to adults thinking about care needs, our parents accounted for 65 shower thoughts.
Seen a great movie lately? Some films just stick in our minds. Perhaps you’re imagining yourself as the main character or trying to work out if you could ever have seen that plot twist coming – either way, 65 shower thoughts show that we daydream about movies to our heart’s content in the shower.
Some specific movies also came to mind – 58 shower thoughts were about Godzilla and another 58 were about Kong!
Struggle to put your phone down? Smartphones dominate our lives – we rely on them for so much! So even when you’re in the shower with your phone safely away from the water, you might be thinking about messaging someone, waiting for an important phone call, or just nosey about your notifications. Enough that 62 shower thoughts are about our phones!
Why Do Shower Thoughts Happen?
While it’s clear that shower thoughts are a common occurrence, the reason that we puzzle over existential dilemmas and responsibilities in the shower is actually very scientific. Therapist and psychology teacher Rebecca Lockwood explains:
“When showering it can create a theta brain wave which are lower frequencies. In our normal waking state we are constantly taking in everything around us, and processing this information yet we do not need to do this when we are in the shower. The prefrontal cortex can relax and so it sort of stops the feeling of conscious thinking altogether.
The theta brain wave is the state where we daydream and when doing something on autopilot without thinking too much about it. We can become quite creative in this state and so when doing things that we don’t have to think much about our mind and thoughts may wonder. The subconscious mind is still working and you tend to tap into this part of yourself more when you are in this state. It is a sort of meditative feeling.”
Why Do We Ponder Existential Questions Most In The Shower?
From the world to life itself, the most common thoughts seem to be around the big existential questions. We asked Rebecca Lockwood why this is the case:
“The thoughts people have will differ for each person. Although the generalisation may be ‘life’ everyone’s thoughts about life will be different and specific to them. Often we come up with solutions when in this state as we are more connected to the subconscious part of our minds. If someone has something going on in their lives at the time, the thoughts are most likely going to be about the solution to this.”
Are Shower Thoughts A Good Thing?
While some shower thoughts appear harmless, some of us might be spending too much time worrying while in the shower. Four-time award-winning, sub-specialised eating disorder counsellor, Ruth Micallef explains:
“When our minds drift off, it's an element of 'detachment', disconnecting from the present world. Whilst detachment can be very healthy and normal, excessive amounts can become unhealthy. We may start to detach to avoid uncomfortable or difficult emotions and experiences.”
How Can We Minimise Negative Shower Thoughts?
If intrusive or negative thoughts are affecting you while showering, you may be wondering if there’s a way to prevent or minimise these troubling thoughts. Psychotherapist, Ruth Micallef, has some advice:
“There are ways to help pull us back into the present, namely with mindfulness. The next time you shower, rather than allowing your mind to detach, instead pull it back to the present.
Firstly tune in to the sounds around you, what do you hear? Next, focus on the physical sensations - the temperate of the water, how it feels on your skin, how your body feels in that moment, even the scents around you.
Finally, breathe, and take a moment to truly tune in to your emotions at that moment, allowing them to come and go like the flow of the water.
By taking just 5 minutes a day to begin practising mindfulness, we can really start to engage with our true authentic feelings and experiences.”
We analysed >4200 posts on r/showerthoughts from the first 30 pages of the ‘hot’, ‘new’, ‘controversial’, and ‘top (all-time)’ sections then totalled up the word count for each unique word that appeared in the post topics.