Your shower is like your own personal think tank. You let the water wash over you until that genius thought you’ve been waiting for finally arrives. If you’re among the many people working from home during the pandemic, you’re likely experiencing all-too-familiar brain fog. And that, my friends, is why the best time to shower is smack in the middle of the workday.
“The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams,” said Ron Friedman, PhD, founder of Ignite80 and author of The Best Place to Work, during a 2016 online summit. “It’s one of those few moments when we’re not tied to our devices, so we have that extra space to find connections between ideas. If we’re not allowing that to happen in our lives, it’s just never going to work.”
Instead of staring at your computer waiting for a solution to come to you, hop into the shower to think it through. Think of it as a standing meeting with yourself, a moment to allow your brain to truly wander (known as the Zeigarnik effect). Nothing else requires your attention when you’re in the shower, so you’re able to think with a clear mind. If you’re working from home, that means the best time to shower is midday, right when you start feeling foggy. Bonus: This gives you more time in the morning if you typically shower when you wake up.
With the anxiety that comes with living during a pandemic, you may feel brain fog even more than you’re used to, explains Priyank Khandelwal, MBBS, assistant professor in neurology at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
“In medical terms, you can boil down ‘brain fog’ into a few things,” says Dr. Khandelwal. “When somebody’s feeling more anxious, and more distracted as a result, then they may feel like they have more of a lack of energy than they do on normal days.”
Nan Wise, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist, says another reason we might be experiencing more brain fog right now because our brain isn’t working to take in new information.
“The brain is a habit-making machine,” she says. So when we’re in habits, when we’re doing the same thing in the same way, it’s really easy [for the brain] to go into automatic pilot.”
If you’re not too keen with the thought of showering after lunch, there are other ways to clear your brain fog. David Perlmutter, MD, a neurologist and the author of Brain Wash, says he likes to do aerobic exercise, stretch, or play his guitar to avoid mental fatigue.
“I keep a guitar right next to my desk in the office,” says Dr. Perlmutter. “Several times during the day I will take a break, pick up the guitar, and either work on a song I’m trying to learn or simply free form some blues or jazz improvisation.”
Whether you play it out with a jam sesh or wash that brain fog right down the drain, you’ll thank yourself for giving your mind just a few minutes to wander.