Showering with Depression, Trauma and Pain

Showering Strategies Photos

Showering can be so hard for people experiencing depression, disability and trauma. It’s really a complex task that requires a lot of thought, prep and both physical and mental energy!

Here are my tips:

  1. Set a goal of how many times to shower a week. I had a three day rule or if I can’t answer my husbands question of when my last one was …it was time… 😪
  2. Start small. Baby wipes and a face wash can be a good alternative if you don’t like to get undressed or you find showering exhausting.
  3. Think about your shower environment and how you will feel more safe and secure… What do I mean?
    • If fear is a concern, shower at a time when you feel the most mentally strong.
    • Shower when you can not hear people on your driveway (if you live on a shared driveway)
    • Shower when you are more stronger at managing the “voices” in your head.
    • If you feel safer, shower when you know someone you trust is home.
    • My shower faces the mirror. I hate looking at my body. If this is you, try to position your self so you are not spending a great time looking at yourself. My goal is to feel comfortable with having a bath.
  4. Brush your teeth in the shower. This is one less thing to think about doing. Which I generally forget about later. I have a spare tooth brush in the shower so I don’t need to remember to get it when I shower.
  5. Have different shaped/ coloured shampoo bottles to your conditioner. I don’t know how many times I’ve washed my hair with shampoo over and over without conditioner. This is so frustrating.
  6. Shower with a buddy. 🤭 My buddy is lily my dog. Showering with her is more about looking after her rather than myself. It has made this dreaded activity fun. #smalldogoptimal
  7. Have music playing. Something to stop you from dissociating in the shower. This also means if the neighbours are loud I can’t hear noises and become paranoid. Again Lily’s my distraction.
  8. Sit to shower. I don’t have the energy to stand to shower. So I sit. Not everyone is able to do that so maybe think about a safe shower chair/stool you could use.
  9. Let you hair air dry if it’s not too cold. Lifting the hair dryer is exhausting and extremely noisy for me. So perhaps towel dry half and do the rest with the hair dryer.
  10. If you don’t want to wash your hair use dry shampoo or place some talcum powder on the roots of your hair. This will prevent your hair from having that greasy look.
  11. Decide what clothes you are going to put on before showering. Standing in the cold and naked is a trigger for me. Try to identify your triggers…leading to my next point
  12. Make sure there is a towel ready for you to use!! Or keep the towels under the basin if possible.
  13. Use a sensitive soap for your scars.
  14. Put on clothes that will minimise you getting dressed again. e.g. sometimes I wear my casual hoodie/jumper and singlet for the next day. This means when I am having a bad day (because of nightmares). I am already dressed. I have minimised the amount of mental energy I need to use for getting dressed and I dont have to get naked again.
  15. I talk to my self. It helps me focus. “Next I am going to put on my socks.”
  16. Keep a routine of what time you normally shower to keep consistent with your hygiene.
  17. After showering wear something comfortable that is the best sensation.
  18. In winter I have a hot water bottle ready for me in bed. That means straight after showing I hop into a warm bed. Being cold is a significant need that I am aware of meeting.
  19. If there is enough natural light in the shower leave the fluorescent lights off. I have noticed I fatigue and dissociate much quicker with these.
  20. Use a portable heater if possible to help you in the process of getting undressed and dressed again. For my back pain this really helps into stopping my back freezing up.

Please add your strategies below!!

Until then… Have a day,   

Love Laura

Founder of OT for BPD

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