A ‘Today’ show behind-the-scenes video has revealed Karl Stefanovic’s morning routine involves a relatable shower habit that his co-host Allison Langdon labelled “weird”.
An Instagram video posted by ‘Today’ on Friday followed Stefanovic’s pre on-air routine at Sydney’s Channel 9 studios.
The presenter brushed his teeth in his dressing room ensuite and took a cheeky stab at his rival Channel 7 before Langdon walked in, took one look at his shower and accused him of being a shower-sitter.
“Hang on,” she said.
“Do you sit down when you shower?”
Stefanovic proudly admitted, “I do actually” before his co-host called the move “weird”.
All harmless banter but Stefanovic is certainly not alone in this act of self-care. A quick inspection of the interwebs will turn up plenty of viral Tweets, and Reddit threads on the matter of shower-sitting with multiple experts explaining the psychology behind why sitting in the shower is so satisfying.
Professor Ian Hickie from the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney said the act is “meditative” and could be a reflection of the turbulence 2020 has inflicted on us.
“People are trying to find ways to just calm down and take a bit of time out and enjoy simple things while everything else is pretty chaotic,” Hickie told HuffPost Australia.
“Even more so for those in high-pressure jobs or in the public eye.”
Hickie said that because the circadian cycle in humans is 24 hours, we have daily mundane activities, like showers, that have become “transactional”.
“We’ve lost the pleasure in it,” he said, while urging that living in the moment is an important part of distressing.
“(Sitting in shower) this is ‘mindfulness’, it’s concentrating on the moment and the pleasure in the moment,” he explained.
You haven’t hit rock bottom until you sit down in a standing shower
— Jennaclaire (@jennaaclaire) September 27, 2018
Other experts say enjoying the hot water while sitting down can increase oxytocin levels which decrease anxiety.
“Hot water increases blood circulation which means more nutrients are available to help cells regenerate,” Sydney-based Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno said.
“The hot water can also offer muscle pain relief and the steam from the shower can certainly do wonders too.”
Interestingly Dr Julian Oldmeadow, Lecturer in Psychology at Swinburne University, considered the role of social norms in the behaviour and certain cultural influences that could encourage either standing in the shower or taking a seat.
“Showering is cultural in the sense that it is surrounded by a set of norms or scripts about what to do in a shower, and we learn these scripts from various social sources - movies, TV, parents, friends, and others observed in public showers,” Oldmeadow said.
“Typically the script states that we stand up in the shower.”
But Oldmeadow added that the habit of sitting in the shower is likely to be performed when showering for relaxation, comfort or “cleansing the psych”.
“That scene from Casino Royale comes to mind, which associates sitting in the shower with both cleansing the psych (AKA Shakespear’s MacBeth) and providing comfort.”
As Oldmeadow pointed out, there has never been a formal psychology study on the topic, but we know people are divided on whether it is better to sit or stand.
One Reddit user asked the ‘Too Afraid To Ask’ forum, “Is sitting in showers weird?”
“I recently had a bad day and started doing the same. Now I just love it,” one user commented.
“Yes, I’m lazy, but I stand for a shower. It goes faster that way,” said another.
Another Reddit thread racked up more than 4,000 votes and nearly 500 comments when one user asked “Ever just sit in the shower for a while?”
One user dubbed it the “depression shower” and said they swear they can hear the lyrics “hello darkness my old friend” playing in the background while they sat and contemplated life.
Others say the habit is a strategy to relax with one user recommending listening to “Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major” by Bach while sitting in the shower.
So, next time 2020 is overwhelming - try sitting in the shower to a little Bach.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost Australia and has been updated.