Inspiration is everywhere, especially in… the shower? Yep, shower epiphanies are a real thing (there’s even a whole subreddit dedicated to these specific shower thoughts). But why do some of our most brilliant brainstorms happen when we’re naked and wet?
It may seem like an odd place for inspiration to strike, but there’s actually a good (scientific) reason for this phenomenon: DMN.
No, DMN is not the newest abbreviation for texting. It stands for default mode network.
A recent study defines DMN as a “set of interconnected regions of the brain.” It is a “task-negative” network, meaning that it is activated when the brain is in a passive state, resting, or unfocused, aka when the mind is wandering.
This happens during habitual activities where very little attention is required, like taking a shower. When your brain isn’t singularly focused or engaging in analytical and logical behaviors, the DMN allows creative ideas, solutions, and suggestions to flow.
Below are some of the reasons the DMN typically activates during shower time, making your cleansing ritual both relaxing and resourceful.
Taking a shower can be a meditative and relaxing experience. The warm water and soothing, splashing sounds can decrease stress and anxiety. When anxiety is reduced, our minds relax and feel free to wander, leading to new ideas.
The shower is one of the few places where a person is completely alone. Without distractions, our thoughts are free to drift uninterrupted.
We all know the drill when it comes to showering. We don’t have to think about repetitive activities like washing our hair or shaving our legs. Repetitive activity has been shown to increase the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Dopamine makes us feel good and motivated, leading to an increase in creativity and problem-solving.
Showers are a place where we carry a lower cognitive load, the amount of mental effort required to process information or complete a task. During the day, our brains are bombarded with information that creates a higher cognitive load.
In the shower, we don’t need to focus on basic cleansing tasks that we’ve done thousands of times, so the cognitive load is reduced. As a result, the brain switches into a passive state that’s good for making new connections and discoveries.
The next time you’re struggling to come up with a new idea, hop in the shower, soap up, and spark your creativity!
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