All Good Things (2010)

If there’s one thing that social media is very good at doing, it’s repackaging completely pedestrian, everyday activities with a fancy new name and selling them off as revolutionary acts of self care.

You’re not just excessively moisturising your face — you’re ‘slugging’. You’re not using a lot of hot water for a long and complicated shower — you’re having an ‘everything shower’. And you’re not just refusing to put in the extra hours at work — you’re ‘quiet quitting’. A cynical person might point out that many of these self-care trends require ample products (and therefore money with which to buy them) in order to really benefit. Late capitalism dressed up as self-improvement? I smell a rat. 

The latest trend on TikTok seems to follow in these questionable footsteps. It’s called ‘bed rotting’, and it’s become such a popular concept that on the social media platform, the hashtag boasts over 10 million views.

@m1rtazap3n1s untrue my room isn’t this tidy #fypシ #rodgercleye #totaleclipseoftheheart #foryou #rodgercleyeedit #mentalillnessinnit #greysanatomy #pinterest #bipolar #bpdtingz #foryoupage #eupd #rottinginbed #icedcoffee #mozzarellasticks #mirtazapine #quetiapine #greysabc ♬ original sound – Patrick Dempsey enthusiast

What is bed rotting?

Bed rotting takes a simple concept — lazing around in bed — and reframes it as an act of radical self care. According to the unofficial authorities online that coin these ridiculous phrases, bed rotting is when you make the decision to stay in bed for an entire day, perhaps longer, while letting the responsibilities of modern life pass you by. Bed rotting doesn’t have any entry-level requirements, except for the location: your bed. 

Wrap yourself in a doona, cocoon yourself in a hoodie, watch TV on your laptop and you are officially rotting in bed. It’s really that simple.

Related: The best memes of 2023 (so far)

Unlike slugging and quiet quitting, bed rotting is defined by the lack of effort required: as long as you’re slothing around in bed, it counts. TV watching, book reading, listening to sad music — even staring out a window at the rain. As one video points out, the TikTok user technically “bed rotted” for many months as a teenager, because she was clinically depressed. Rightfully, she says that bed rotting isn’t just some cute online trend that we should glorify because often, hen you’re depressed, staying in bed isn’t necessarily a choice  — it can feel like a necessity.

@lilythebigreddog #stitch with @Vanessa Hill #bedrotting #mentalhealth #depression ♬ Coastline – Hollow Coves

It really does feel like this ‘trend’ is simply reaching for a buzzword to describe something that people have been doing since beds were invented — and understandably, there’s been a lot of criticism because of this. Psychologists have written countless articles on the negative effects of bed rotting, including pointing out that the practice can be symptomatic of suffering depression. In this CNN article, Kelly Glazer Baron, associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, also points out that from a sleep science perspective, “bed rotting is exactly the opposite of what we want people to do”. 

But here’s the thing about bed rotting — those participating understand that it isn’t necessarily helpful, healthy or indicative of the world’s most unburdened mind. But they don’t care, and that nonchalance is actually a big driving factor. Bed rotting is allowing yourself to do something slothful and self-indulgent, without a goal to strive towards. It’s giving hustle culture the bird. 

And that’s what a lot of these self care trends are ultimately doing — unwinding the detrimental effects of years spent glorifying the grind. Bed rotting is also free. While some practitioners like to recommend bells and whistles (face masks, herbal tea, a nice candle), you could just as easily get into bed with the lights off, stare at the ceiling for a full day and achieve basically the same results.

It was only a matter of time before self-care became another ideal to strive for. In 2023, self care is just as aspirational as owning a Merc, or going on a fancy holiday. Thanks to the panopticon-like lens social media applies to our lives, self care has become a performative act, which pretty much undermines the point of looking after yourself in the first place. It’s a capitalism Catch-22 — in order to afford the self care you need to recover from the rat race, you must commit even harder to the rat race in order to make enough money to afford the self care

Bed Rotting, meanwhile, is one of few internet wellness trends that doesn’t require you to invest in new equipment or travel abroad to a fancy retreat. Bed Rotting is the self care trend that exists because all the other self care trends are actually exhausting.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Headspace on 1800 650 890


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