Forget Feeling Glued to the Couch -- Here's Our Guide to Taking Care of Yourself (Even When You Don't Want To)
Bed Rotting is a social media trend that asserts that in order to take care of your mental health and de-stress from the modern world you should pick out a day, and then spend literally that whole day just laying in bed and relaxing. You avoid doing chores or engaging in social engagements and instead spend your time on your phone, laptop, or watching a tv if you have one in your bedroom. And while it might seem benign, there are people out there who take it way too far.
But even for those who don’t take it to an outlandish level, it really isn’t a great way to practice self-care in the first place. And while spending a whole day in bed might seem like a good idea at first, this social media trend (like most social media trends) is a little misguided or misinformed. While it is certainly important to take a break from the modern world and de-stress to take care of your mental health, spending all day staring at the blue light of your phone or your pc isn’t going to do anything to improve your mental health.
In fact it can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, and depressed. And spending the day in bed just mindlessly scrolling through social media isn’t going to do your mental health any favors either. In fact, if anything, it can do the opposite and cause you to feel more anxious or depressed.
A big part of the reason we need to take a break from the modern world isn’t just from being overworked. With the multiple tech revolutions and the explosion of social media platforms in the past decade, we have constructed a daily routine for ourselves that is actually quite counter-productive and damaging to our mental health.
Instead of spending all day in bed “bed rotting” you can instead find healthier and more productive ways to practice your self-care. There are a wide variety of choices that are going to have a much greater positive impact on your emotional well being than bed rotting will.
There’s nothing wrong with spending an extra hour or two in bed in the morning on your day off. In fact this can be a really great way to relax and if you have a pet or significant other, it is also a great time to snuggle up with them. Which might sound a little dorky, but there are genuine mental health benefits to snuggling. It causes your body to release a chemical called oxytocin that calms you and helps you deal with stress. So this can be a great time to grab some free endorphins and spend some time relaxing with your special person. But it’s really only appropriate for an hour or two.
The issue with bed rotting is really just that there is an inherent problem with staying in bed all day. In that there isn’t really all that much you can do in bed to entertain yourself all day long. But you have to have enough stuff to do for the whole day. Maybe you nap for a couple hours and maybe you spend a few hours getting intimate with yourself or your partner, but that leaves the other hours of the day where you have something to do.
And more likely than not, what you are gonna do is grab your laptop or your smartphone and spend those twelve hours staring at screens all day long. Heck you might even have the little screen up close to your eyeballs and have the big tv screen far away and just pack as many blue lights between your eyeballs and the wall as you possibly can. And this isn’t going to do anything to improve your mental health. It’s going to make you feel worse than when you started. Particularly if you are the type of person who uses their smartphone time to endlessly scroll through social media all day. Using social media, especially an excessive amount, actually tends to make us feel worse about ourselves and brings on feelings of depression and anxiety. And this problem is worse for women, particularly young women.
So if you are practicing a day of self-care, don’t spend the day “bed rotting” and depleting your mental health by scrolling through Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Facebook, and Discord. Instead find a healthy habit to engage in on your self-care days and do something that will actually help you feel better for real on the other side!
There are a lot of great options you can choose from. But the most important thing to consider is how to balance your self-care time and your productive time. After all, you want your self-care to be effective and to have the time to relax, but you would also probably feel good by accomplishing a project you have been putting off or engaging in one of your favorite hobbies. So take the time to plan out your self-care in advance so that way you don’t end up just wasting your whole day in bed.
Physical exercise is always a great choice if you want to feel better. Not only will you feel good from the physical exercise (because it causes your body to release endorphins and serotonin), but you will also feel good about yourself for taking care of your body. So physical exercise is a form of self-care that pays off twofold.
And you might even find that listening to music while you work out helps you get an even better workout in. Studies have shown motivational music can work quite well to help you push through your fatigue, and listening to music is estimated to be able to push endurance during a workout up to 15%. Which is a pretty solid boost when you consider all you have to do is listen to upbeat music that you like that inspires you to get you there.
Another great way to engage in self-care is by meditating. If lifting weights or jogging is a workout for your body, then meditation is kind of like a workout you can do for your brain. And meditation has a whole slew of mental health benefits such as reducing anxiety and stress and improving focus and memory. But whereas working out your body requires fatiguing physical effort, all that meditation requires is for you to sit in a comfortable position and clear your mind.
And while lots of people are most comfortable with guided meditations when they start out, many people who practice meditation find meditating to special ambient music works the best for them. This style of music can really help you relax and boost your mood while also being able to boost your focus and concentration! And for those of you out there interested in mediation, but aren’t sure where you would start, I highly recommend starting out with the music because you might as well get all the benefits possible if you aren’t sure exactly what you are doing. If the music helps you relax and lower your heart rate, you’ll be able to enter a meditative state much easier and you’ll be able to start getting the benefits from meditation much easier!
Listening to music doesn’t just have positive self-care impacts when you are working out or meditating. Listening to music can be a great way to increase the productivity of your self-care day all on its own. Listening to music can improve both your brain health and your mental health. In fact music has been shown to stimulate dopamine production in our brain. Which means that music literally helps speed up the part of the brain that releases the chemical that scientifically makes us feel good.
So from a pure logistics stand point, you are going to want to involve music in your self-care day if your goal is to actually feel better afterwards. Music will literally increase the chemical that makes you feel good in your brain so you will have more of it then you did when you started. It’s a surefire way to help achieve your end goal.
But music has other benefits other than just stimulating the production of dopamine. It has also been shown to improve our ability to focus. And one of the ways we burn out in the modern world is by being so overworked during the week that by the time our day off arrives we are too tired to focus on our hobbies or activities. But engaging in the things you love is a really important part of practicing self-care. So listening to music can be a great way to help you beat some of the brain fog and focus on your hobbies.
Now listening to the Top 50 pop songs on the radio while you are trying to focus isn’t going to work. That many choruses is going to distract you every thirty seconds or so. But listening to classical, jazz, ambient, or any other genre of music that doesn’t have lyrics that you can get distracted by can be a great way to help you focus.
And on top of that, music has also been shown to have serious positive impacts on our mental wellbeing. Not only can music make you feel more empathetic, it can also help improve your mood, reduce your heart rate, reduce feelings of anxiety, improve emotional intelligence, and even reduce physical pain. Listening to music improves blood flow to the limbic system of our brain which is responsible for generating, processing, and controlling emotions. So if you want to practice some emotional self-care then listening to music can be a great way to go about it. Stimulating the limbic system of your brain can not only help you feel good in the moment, you might find that it helps you process some emotions you weren’t even aware have been dragging you down.
I hope that this post has helped you make a plan for your next big self-care day. While bed rotting might be a fun internet trend, it is actually a pretty horrible situation to put yourself in if you want to improve your mental wellbeing. Instead, using music to help you focus on your hobbies, get some physical exercise in, or spend some time meditating is going to have far more positive effects for your mental health.
And since music literally sends more blood to our brain's limbic system, it will help you process, analyze, and deal with any negative emotions that have been bringing you down, while also helping to generate positive emotional feelings. It also helps your brain produce more dopamine and release other endorphins that will improve your mood.
TL;DR, if you are practicing self-care without involving music, you are really holding your self-care routine back in a serious scientific way for no reason.