Bed Rotting Is TikTok’s New Obsession. Here’s How to Make the Most of This Mental Health DayRotting or recovery? It’s debatable, TBH.
Have you ever come home after an exceptionally long day at work or school, immediately crashed onto your bed, and didn’t move for the next, err, 10 hours (not counting bathroom and refrigerator breaks)? Personally, this happens almost every time I have a few particularly social days in a row and wake up feeling emotionally hungover from human interaction. In those cases, I make the executive decision to have a my-bed-is-my-life kind of day. Now, this inactive recharge has another name: bed rotting, aka TikTok’s new obsession with what some people would just call a mental health day or a lazy day.
On TikTok, videos about bed rotting gained millions of views as users offered glimpses into their own bed rot self-care routines and encouraged others to take care of their mental health by doing the same. I mean, there was a nurse returning from an overnight shift in desperate need of rest. Very fair! And a teacher embracing a long kid-free weekend. Do you, teach. And a depressed college student found peace in bed for a little while. Also totally understandable.
Since then, many online have questioned the benefits of a bed-forward recovery day. Don’t get me wrong. When I first heard of bed rot, I was taken aback. It felt like a gross way to describe something that can be very restorative, especially for people who are overworked or struggle with their mental or physical health. But referring to a full day of relaxing as “rotting” might actually be a sharp commentary on our work culture—not a euphemism for a lazy good-for-nothing activity. Writer Anne Helen Peterson describes this perfectly, saying, “The term itself screams the quiet part aloud: When the ability to work is cherished above all else, rest has to be framed as abject.”
Capitalism critique aside, there is a deep stigma around being “lazy” when you want to take a day to rest, explains therapist Hannah Mayderry, LMHC. Even when you’re depressed, burnt out, sensory overloaded, or just plain tired, we can feel judged or even judge ourselves for taking a much-needed break (in bed).
However, the truth is that having a mental health day or bed rot day or whatever you want to call it can actually be really freaking great for you—if you’re mindful about it. “The responsibilities of daily life are emotionally draining and time-consuming. Granting oneself permission to rest without any pressures or expectations can serve as a rejuvenating act of self-care,” Mayderry says.
Still, it’s crucial to approach bed rotting carefully to ensure this day of relaxation doesn’t inadvertently disrupt your life or become an avoidance tactic. Here are a few therapist-backed tips to do exactly that.
1. Rot with intention.
Taking a bed rot day is ultimately about slowing down and listening to your body when it needs a break, but we’ve all probably had a lazy day turn into a lazy weekend and had an off-week after that. That can happen when you take a break but aren’t mindful of why you need this do-nothing time or if you don’t make the most of it, Mayderry says.
Being mindful can look like pausing to think about how you want to feel after this break and getting intentional about your time. So try establishing specific timeframes for your bed rotting and commit to getting up after, say, five hours, so you don’t end up isolating yourself for too long, she suggests.
2. Set reasonable expectations and give people a heads-up.
In order to really milk a mental health day, you’ve gotta tell those who normally bug you for things (your boss, your mom, your needy friends) that you’re unavailable. Managing others’ expectations of you will enable you to truly enjoy a charcuterie board (or a Lunchable) in peace as you listen to Lana Del Rey on repeat. If Carol from sales knows you’re not around, she isn’t as likely to come around, pinging you about “deliverables.”
So, once you’ve committed to bed rotting, tell anyone who might demand your attention during that time that you’ll be unreachable. The goal is to alleviate any external pressures and minimize any guilt or anxiety associated with taking time off, says psychotherapist Prerna Menon, LCSW. Then, you can feel like you’re getting the most out of your day while also being considerate of others.
3. Try to do more than stare at various screens.
As tempting as it can be to watch half a season of Love Island in one day, “passive activities like scrolling social media or watching TV may not be truly restful for some people because they can lead to feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or dissatisfaction,” psychiatrist Ryan Sultan, MD, says. And when you feel dissatisfied with your bed-based day, you might be tempted to extend your rotting time in an effort to reach that elusive chill zone. That could be why spending a Saturday watching abnormally hot islanders prance around an expansive villa often leaves you feeling like garbage.
Instead, taking a full rest day in bed is most restorative and enjoyable when it's also spent on activities that stimulate your mind in more positive ways, like reading, meditating, bed yoga, knitting, even sudoku puzzles, Dr. Sultan says. So think about what would be the lowest lift for you to try on your next mental health day and whether doing that activity would make you feel better than doomscrolling and TV time usually does.
4. Think about how to make life outside your bed a little less draining.
The key to lasting change in your mental well-being is consistency that goes beyond just one day in bed. If you spend 24 hours resting from the chaos of your life and the other six days are spent working 14-hour days or running down your social battery, aka not addressing what’s really stressing you out, the rest doesn’t do much in the long run, Menon says.
So think or journal about how you can work through what’s really wearing you out and how you can address that. You can also integrate self-care practices into your daily routines that help you prioritize your mental health over the long term. Even if the habits are small, they can really “help sustain your mental and emotional well-being throughout the week,” she suggests. Whether it’s fitting in 30 minutes of mindful movement, cooking that delish meal you saw a chef make on your fave talk show, going on a two-hour gossip sesh with your long-distance bff, focus on activities that fill your cup. You can also steal some of these easy ways to improve your mental health.
The bottom line: If you find yourself needing a mental health day to lie in bed every now and then, you’re not alone. For many of us, showing up as our best selves requires more rest and relaxation, and that’s OK.
But if feelings of exhaustion, a bummed out mood, or a lack interest in the stuff you normally like doing hang around even after a bed rot day, or if these feelings impact your day-to-day functioning, reach out to a therapist or your doctor for help, Dr. Sultan says.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.