On day 180 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored taking a shorter shower.
I admit it: hot showers are a weakness of mine. I love the near-coma state of relaxation it puts me in. The steamy, sauna-like experience is a guilty pleasure for sure.
A few years back, my husband and I spent several weeks traveling through Europe by campervan. There, I learned quickly that hot showers are a luxury, not something everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy. Not only is hot water scarce in some areas, but you have to pay for it – every minute of it.
So why are shorter showers better?
The most important reason is that it conserves water, a scarce resource in some parts of the country. California’s campaign, “Take Five,” notes that 5-minute showers could reduce water consumption by more than 5,400 gallons each year (when an average shower duration of 11 minutes is used as a comparison.)
Clean water isn’t an unlimited resource.
But even in Seattle, where we’re blessed with higher than average rainfalls, the “use only what you need” principle is still in play. I mean, why waste water selfishly, right?
Another reason shorter showers are better is that it’s not great for our skin. Hot showers may feel good at the time, but they can leave our skin feeling inflamed and dry.
After deciding to include this in my self-care plan, I began to shop for a timer. A quick Amazon search turned up a simple hourglass timer with a suction cup that was perfect for the shower. For around $5 (ironically), I can now hold myself to the 5-minute limit.
At first, I did feel a bit rushed. It certainly wasn’t the leisurely, relaxing experience I was used to. At one point, I was a little worried that I might cut myself with my razor while shaving my legs hurriedly. The thought also crossed my mind several times: “Am I going to run out of time before I finish washing all of my…um, parts?”
But I didn’t run out of time.
It was just enough time, in fact. I didn’t have any time to spare, but I got the job done. And I felt good about the fact that I did my part to use only what I needed.