How to Balance Self-Care and Productivity

Alice Boyes Ph.D.

You might’ve heard of the TikTok trend “bed rotting,” meaning to stay in bed all day relaxing. The trend promotes spending the whole day in bed for self-care, and to resist pressures to be productive.

To avoid the downsides of bed rotting—like it potentially disrupting your sleep rhythms—consider these alternative ways to balance productivity and self-care.

1. Stay in bed, but not all day.

I have a 10-month-old. On Sundays, when she naps, I stay in bed and cuddle her. Part of the time is mindful cuddling, but part of the time, I watch YouTube on my phone. If staying in bed appeals, there are less extreme ways.

2. Identify activities that simultaneously provide self-care and boost your productivity.

Self-care and productivity aren’t opposites. Plenty of activities, like gentle walks and time in nature, reliably improve both.

Certain forms of entertainment can support both your self-care and your productivity, but these will be quite individual. I like Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, “Happier,” and find it improves my happiness and productivity.

For some people, organizing may feel like both self-care and productivity, but this won’t be true for everyone.

3. Use creativity (not volume) to be more productive.

One way to be more productive is to grind harder, to produce more volume of work. However, another typically more pleasant way, to boost your productivity is by targeting your creativity.

A lot of knowledge work is problem-solving. By enhancing your creativity, you’ll become a better problem-solver.

When you’re more creative, you’ll produce more unique that work incorporates more of you, and this can feel like self-care.

4. Set productivity goals that leave plenty of time and energy for the rest of your life.

If you feel like you need to crash out all day in bed, it might be because your productivity goals don’t leave enough room for the rest of your life.

Productivity goals need to recognize that we’re humans, not robots. We have natural ups and downs in our zest. You can’t expect that you’ll perform every day like you do on your best days. That’s an unrealistic goal.

5. Nurture supportive work relationships.

Self-care is about feeling supported. A form of self-care is to nurture the relationships that support your productivity. Aim for long-term, not immediate pay-offs. Get lots of exposure to other people’s thinking and problem-solving styles as a way of diversifying your own.

Not sure where to start? Reach out to a colleague to compliment them, or to share good news. People mistakenly think of social support as being related only to negative events, but this isn’t the case.

Nurture your strong, intermediate, and weak work connections.

6. Grow your self-knowledge.

When you hear about a relatively benign trend, like staying in bed for a day, it’s OK to give it a try and see how impacts you. Does it leave you rejuvenated or sluggish? Can you still sleep that night?

Ultimately, improving your self-knowledge will help you manage yourself better when it comes to both productivity and wellness. If what you’re craving from bed rotting is indulgence or a sensory break, pin down exactly what you’re craving and consider other ways to achieve it.

You don’t always need to actively experiment. Any happenstance change in your normal routines provides an opportunity to observe how that affects you, from both a productivity and well-being perspective.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add Comment *

Name *

Email *


Keep Reading: Related Posts

Use Mindfulness to Improve Well-Being
By Mayo Clinic Health System staff If you’ve heard of or read about mindfulness — a form of meditation — you might be curious about how to practice it. Find...
Studies show you weren’t (necessarily) happier when you were younger.
Mark Travers Ph.D. reviewed by Gary Drevitch Publishers note: Hello everyone, here is a quick blog that talks about reflection of our past and what some people might have or...
Observing Juneteenth and Supporting Mental Health Equity
APA Leadership This weekend, we acknowledge and observe Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the day that the end of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth...