It’s no fluke that your best ideas come when you’re in the shower. Science proves that a shower creates the perfect conditions for creativity, giving your inner genius the freedom to wander and explore; that is a mindless task and rest/relaxation.
And it’s not just showering, any mindless task such as gardening, fishing or exercising, which we can do on autopilot tends to create similar results. Giving the mind a break in this way lets it roam and mix things up; creating odd and random connections which are fundamental in true creativity.
This kind of mind wandering relaxes the prefrontal cortex, which is your brain’s command centre where it manages tasks, decisions and behaviour. During this time of freedom your brain also switches on its default mode network (DMN) which is a group of your brain regions that typically have lower levels of activity when engaged in particular tasks like paying attention, but have higher levels of activity when awake, but not involved in any specific mental exercise. So with you frontal cortex loosened up and your DMN turned on, your brain instinctively makes new, creative connections that consciously your mind would have dismissed.
And this is why the ideas you have showering or engaging in any other relaxing, but mindless activity are unique to those you have at work. A state of meditative distraction is the optimal idea time.
This is the core reason you have your best ideas in the shower, but it’s not the only one.
The other main reason cited for the shower being an idea incubator is because showering releases dopamine. This chemical moves you from boredom or apathy to excitement and engagement and it is the concoction of both the mindless state and rest, along with engagement and motivation which potentially leads to the optimal state for idea creation.
Further research is being undertaken in this area to investigate this in more detail, but the scientific evidence to date and the knowledge we currently have all point to a boost in creativity.
Timing is everything
Finally the time at which you take your shower can also play a part in the creativity equation. According to the journal ‘Thinking and Reasoning’ our creative sweet spot is in the morning before you’re even fully awake. Taking your shower first thing when your brain censors are still foggy and weak, keeps you from blocking our irrelevant and distracting thoughts – all of which help towards the creation of great ideas.
So, why not set you alarm a little earlier tomorrow and enjoy that morning shower a little longer – who knows what gems you’ll step out of it with!