In my last home I had an amazing shower. It was one of my favorite features in the entire house. I came to view it as a magic portal to clarity and creativity.
My column used to be due in my editor’s inbox by Saturday at 11 a.m. Whenever that day arrived and I still hadn’t produced anything worthy of being emailed, I didn’t panic. Instead, I got into the shower. I’d emerge from my steamy refuge inspired and ready to write.
Finding answers to problems or being struck by an “aha” moment when you’re in the shower is by no means unique to me. Why does a good shower have such a powerful effect? There are a couple of reasons for this.
The human brain is an amazing organ, but it has its limitations. It can only give its attention to so many things at one time. That’s why multitasking frequently results in more errors than if you focused on each task individually.
Doing multiple things at the same time means your brain is flipping its attention back and forth between tasks. Food can burn, a scheduled call be missed, or the sink overflow if your brain’s attention is elsewhere at a critical time.
Being overly busy makes it difficult for your brain to find time to discover the clarity or creativity you may be craving.
Another reason why you can shower your way to inspiration is that it allows your mind time to wander. When your brain relaxes it opens up to new ideas and perspectives. Sometimes the thoughts you need aren’t actually in your consciousness.
Your senses take in everything they encounter and send all that information to your brain. You’d be overwhelmed if you were made aware of all of that data. Your mind helps you by only sending information to your consciousness that it thinks will be helpful. That’s why setting intentions can be so powerful.
Your brain sends data that it believes will support your values and beliefs, regardless of what they are. This is why you may know something but have no idea how you know. You just do.
Information that’s being stored in your subconscious isn’t lost. It’ll bubble up to the surface if your brain decides it’ll be helpful to you.
Studies show that when you don’t know the answer in a multiple-choice test, your best strategy is to go with your first instinct. Don’t overthink it. Allow the information in your subconscious to assist you.
What do you do if you run into a creative block or problem when having a shower isn’t possible? There are other things that will give you the same result. Look for a solo activity that requires minimal attention.
Take a walk someplace where you don’t need to concentrate on traffic, wash the floors, vacuum, or weed your flower bed. The trick is to disconnect with the outside world.
So, the next time you have a problem to solve, or have hit a creative roadblock, carve out some mental space, jump in the shower or head off on a walk by yourself.
You may be amazed by the result.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.