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Learning to not Shower

Up until recently, I was an obsessive shower taker. I had to shower every day – sometimes multiple times a day. I showered before Saturday morning long runs. I showered after night swims and then again when I’d wake up the next morning.

This wasn’t at all related to actual cleanliness — proven by the fact that I showered in some really gross showers — but more so just how my skin felt. If I didn’t shower immediately when I woke up, I would start to get the chills and my skin felt like it was crawling.

I can track this obsession at least as far back as middle school, when slumber parties were rather uncomfortable. But other than that, this habit was only mildly inconvenient.

And then this trip came along and I wanted to hike the Inca Trail. I would have to go four days without a shower. I was not going to let my neurosis stop me from seeing Machu Picchu.

I scoured the internet for someone else like me. I wanted tips on how to break this habit. I found that the results for “how to stop showering” yielded either OCD support groups in which showering once or twice a day wasn’t considered a big deal relatively speaking (not helpful) or beauty magazines talking about how showering regularly wasn’t actually good for your hair and to just stop doing it (also not helpful).

I launched a tiered approach.

  1. Don’t shower before swimming in the morning, shower after. Check.
  2. Shower at night, don’t shower the next morning and work from home. Check.
  3. Shower at night, don’t shower the next morning and work from the office. Check.
  4. Shower in the morning, don’t shower the following morning and work from home. Check.
  5. Shower every other day without working location restrictions. Check.

And now, I can go almost 4 days without washing my hair! I know it sounds small, but this was the first time I realized how much this trip would push me and teach me. If I could break a 15 year shower obsession, there was nothing I couldn’t do!