The Rockwood Files: Shower Power

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Here’s the answer to almost any problem you’re having today. It’s only three words long and makes you smell good: Take a shower.

Too simplistic, you say? Let’s look at the facts. There’s a reason why the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” rings true. Good things flow from water, like crops, grass, trees, flowers, puddles to splash in, and gorgeous waterfalls (also known as nature’s built-in showers.)

But people need showers, too. Here’s a short list of the almost endless reasons why:

Because dirt, sweat and stink demand it.

Because pollen is real.

Because your mood needs a time-out in a relaxing place.

Because showers let you procrastinate while getting clean.

Because it’s one of the few places you can be alone long enough to hear yourself think.

Because that cocoon of warm, steamy shower air smells like coconut shampoo.

Because you’re more likely to think of the real answer to any problem while you’re in there.

That last reason is one of the best ones. During the past 20-plus years of raising kids and weekly writing deadlines, some of my best ideas have rained down on me in the shower. I often walk into that glass box as a frustrated, whiny mess but walk out with a fresh idea and the renewed energy to do something with it.

The shower is like a spa for the human brain because the tasks we do in there don’t require much focus. We’ve done them so often that the whole process runs on muscle memory. (That’s how it’s possible to put conditioner on your hair twice because you can’t remember whether you already did it.)

Most of us have a shower “routine” we choreographed years ago – a certain order of events between the time we turn on the water and the time we reach for a towel. Some people keep it short and efficient, and the rest of us could easily shower for an hour without even noticing. (Please note that time in the shower directly correlates to the number of beauty products you’ve collected in there. I’m probably one bottle of scented body wash away from never leaving the shower again.)

Thankfully, we’re living in a glorious time when a hot shower is available to most of us almost anytime. But that wasn’t always the case. If we had been born a few centuries ago, we’d have been stuck in a cramped tub of well water once every six months.

The first not-so-luxurious shower was invented by a guy named William Feetham in 1767. His invention pumped water into an overhead basin, and then you’d pull a chain that dumped the basin water over your head. But the water was freezing cold and recycled, so by the third or fourth yank of the chain, you were just repeatedly dumping cold dirty water on your head.

Then in the 1800s, hot showers were made possible but only for the rich. In the 1920s, showers finally became widespread in America. And by the 1980s, everyone was doing it, and showers got super fancy with body jets, shower heads with multiple settings, and even colored lights! (For the record, my family never had one of these expensive disco-style showers when I was growing up, but somehow we made do.)

Now here we are in 2022 when self-care, quiet time to think, and mental well-being are as important as ever. So, when you’re cranky or exhausted or sad or looking for answers in this confusing, dirty world, the solution is simple. Go take a shower. You’re going to feel better soon.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click hereTo check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.