Much like brushing your teeth, the daily shower is so deeply embedded within our routine that to slip into clean sheets without having bathed seems odd at best, while deeply unsettling for others. For many, the morning shower is the only way they know how to start their day and thanks to Wim Hof, should you turn that tap to the cold setting, you might as well be logging time in a meditation spa for the good work it’s doing your system. But when the global pandemic came to stalk the world and upend our lives, it also led many to rethink the daily shower. Now, we’re beginning to wonder if this once sacred routine is becoming obsolete.
With many people still choosing to work from home or at least spend a significantly fewer number of days at the office, the daily shower almost seems unnecessary. As Maria Cramer writes in The New York Times, “The pandemic has upended the use of zippered pants and changed many people’s eating and drinking habits. And there are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.”
Already, we’re seeing a decline in those showering daily. In a recent YouGov survey, The Guardian reports that 17 per cent of people in Britain abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, with parents even going so far as to say their teenagers were quick to do the same. People are now questioning if they need to shower, as well as if they even want to and at a time where environmental disasters plague the media, many are seeing this as an opportunity to be more conscious about their water usage and environmental footprint.
The same YouGov survey also found that close to a third of Brits said they were less likely to put clean clothes on, and a quarter were also washing their hair less frequently. Not surprisingly, sales of deodorant declined, according to figures from retail analysts Mintel as 28 per cent of people have been using the product less. As far as millennials go, it seems this generation can own the status of worst offenders, as 40 per cent dodged deodorant completely. While the environmental benefits of foregoing a daily shower are impossible to ignore, it should also be said that for some, a decline in self-care can be an indication of poor mental health, a result of anxiety, stress, and the uncertainty of this time.
The pandemic has become something of a meme, a way of uniting us all in this moment of uncertainty, of peeling back the bleak layers together to find some common ground. We’ve joked about our declining style, of how we no longer remember what it feels like to wear pants with non-elasticised waistbands. We know this is tongue-in-cheek, but also it hits home that the pandemic really has seen us question all the routines we once held sacred. Blow-outs, impeccable grooming, and personal hygiene. As we continue to shield from the coronavirus at home and in a changing work environment, perhaps all those things aren’t as important as we once believed.