Make your bed.
Yes, at the risk of triggering memories of irritating demands made by your parent or caregiver, current demands if you’re a teenager, we are seriously suggesting that you make your bed.
And we have a really good reason for this suggestion. We believe you will feel better when your bed’s made. And when you feel better, you think better, and do better.
It’s been something of a theme this month with client work, a sneaking sense of disorder, an un-ease. Maybe it has to do with settling back into the post-holiday routine. A lot of us feel we are back to work, back to school, back to the darn Winter. A lot of us are a little fed up and finding it hard to say goodbye to the longer days, sunshine-filled, slightly-more-relaxed Summer days. (Okay, ‘sunshine filled’ depending where you live… !)But you get the idea. At any rate, most of us are resisting the transition because we know what’s coming (shorter days, colder weather). We are resisting it, rebelling even, and that usually brings a sense of disorder, un-ease.
I spoke with someone last week who’s struggle is how to be nicer to herself. She was quite mean to herself, and she is not a mean person. Quite the opposite actually – she is the epitome of kindness. But she is kinder to others than to herself, as many of us are.
So the question for her was –” is there one easy thing I can do to start to be nicer to me?” What might feel nice, for example, to come home to after a long day at work? And boom! The answer came – a nicely made bed. The meaning of this, for her, was quite simple and very relatable: an inviting, peaceful, restful place that needed no work, that was ready to accept her tired body and carry her off to sleep.
Ahhhhhhhhhh. (We’re feeling more relaxed just saying those words.)
Now, the idea of making one’s bed before leaving for the day being therapeutic is not just an isolated notion, something concocted in a therapy office in a small seaside Irish town last week. Indeed, there is research to back this up. We won’t bore you with academia but (very) briefly: In one study called “Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol” published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin researchers concluded that “.. perceiving one’s home as being cluttered or unfinished could directly trigger stress reactions and depressed mood, whereas viewing the home as more restorative might alleviate these negative states”.
In other words, ‘tidy home = tidy mind’
Charles Duhigg (here’s a clip of him speaking about his work) author of “The Power of Habit” also argues that making your bed daily is correlated with higher productivity and higher levels of happiness. Forming the simple habit of putting your clothes away every night (on the floor doesn’t count!!) and making your bed every morning can shape us into a more productive person! One can argue that this is a correlation, not necessarily a causation. If you spotted that you are indeed correct – but here’s a suggestion: see how it feels.
And Duhigg is not the only person to put this argument/observation forward. Here’s another piece we found on Lifehacker. Habits that involve even small amounts organization help us to feel achievement, control, clear, ready. Organizing your environment around you right from start of your day will facilitate a feeling of preparedness and control. And having a restful uncluttered space to return to just, feels good – it’s a reward. Especially after an awful day. You won’t be moaning to yourself about the crumpled sheets and the mess on the floor, which for some of us spirals quickly to shame, irritation and self criticism. You get to avoid all that by taking a few minutes, maybe just one minute to set this treat up for yourself.
And you can have yourself to thank (because you made that bed yourself, you go-getter you) – a double win!
In summary, our earth-shattering, world-changing mental health advice for the week is this:
…Make your bed!
At the end of the day, you can thank yourself for creating this haven you have created. Then smile smugly, snuggle in and sleep well.
(Side note: Tanya wonders if one had a housekeeper to actually make one’s bed every day..well.. she’d like to see if it would have similarly amazing mood enhancing effects.. in the interests of academic research.. So she’s available to any PhD students interested in exploring this).
(side side note – although, then again there’s this... LOL)