Having a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine after a long, stressful day at work releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, like endorphins and dopamine, as well as norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that aids in arousal. But if you imbibe responsibly, you know that already. What’s surprising is that you can punch up the entire experience by sipping in the shower.
“The shower beer is actually a great way to improve productivity and creativity,” Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth of NYC Surgical Associates, told Fatherly. “Showers are a great way to release dopamine, and adding one drink to that can assist your creative juices due to your relaxed mindset.”
The reward centers of the brain were first identified in the 1950s when scientists realized that stimulating a region of the rat brain known as the nucleus accumbens released an addictive amount of dopamine. These findings have been duplicated in a number of animal studies, and neuroscientists believe human brains work in similar ways. But it wasn’t until 2012 that scientists looked at human brains and found that alcohol floods their pleasure centers with endorphins.
“This is something that we’ve speculated about for 30 years, based on animal studies, but haven’t observed in humans until now,” study coauthor Jennifer Mitchell, professor of neurology at University of California, San Francisco, commented in 2012. “It provides the first direct evidence of how alcohol makes people feel good.” A more recent study out of Britain bolstered these claims, reporting that light drinking makes adults happier even after controlling for happy occasions.
But rest that drink on your soap dish as the bathroom fills with steam, and double the benefits. Multiple studies have shown that showers help people think, relax, and maximize their creativity. Perhaps that’s why there’s a (slightly NSFW) subreddit dedicated entirely to shower beer. Even the beer industry has caught on, with one Swedish company now advertising a sudsy brew.
It’s important to note that alcohol is a depressant, and that the negative effects of irresponsible drinking will not be mitigated by showering with your vice. But if you can harness the power of the shower beer in moderation, it might be one of the more productive and enjoyable cold ones ones you’ll have. Just ask Hollingsworth: “The extra release of dopamine from the shower, added with the initial benefits of the ‘one drink a day’ philosophy, can actually help reduce stress a lot.”