Glimmers, bed-rotting and everything shower: Is Gen Z repackaging self-care?
Lying in bed all day just got a fancy new word
Ghar komdi (house hen in Marathi) is one of the several funny taunts you’ll hear in a Maharashtrian household. It refers to someone who doesn’t want to leave their house. In this case, me. My dad has called me a ghar komdi for as long as I can remember, “How can you possibly spend so much time cooped up at home?” is the question forever buffering on his forehead as he stares at me, dressed for his evening walk. I don’t know how to tell him that planting my tashreef ka tokra in one corner of my bed is in fact my idea of relaxation. Gen Z self-care if you will.
Spending three days working from the office, sitting in cabs, stuck in traffic for 50 hours and interacting with the outside world generally, I need time off to be a ghar komdi and just eat, sleep, repeat. And I’m happy to report that this behaviour, according to Gen Z, is indeed self-care. Packaged as doing aerial yoga and breathwork in a sleek bun or going to a pottery class, self-care for a long time was about engaging in activities that kept your brain busy. Scrolling on your phone in the dark, wrapped like a burrito, wasn’t the ideal image of self-care. But Gen Z is rapidly changing that by repackaging what it means to care for yourself truly.
Ishani Udas (21) is a Master’s student studying artificial intelligence in the Netherlands. Her ideal day off is one where she doesn’t have to plan or do anything actively and can get enough sustainable rest. “It doesn’t mean getting in long hours of sleep but just enough for my body to feel rejuvenated. I may get in some form of movement like stretches or light yoga, but not a hardcore workout. A proper workout seems like an active thing to do on a day which is meant to be not active,” she says. Natasha Shukla (24), a Coffee Specialist, Trainer and SCA-certified Barista, echoes this sentiment. “My ideal days off involve a whole bunch of laying around, spending time with my cat and reading a book.”
As per an NPR report based on a 2015 study by the Pew Research Centre, millennials contributed a lot of time and money to self-care essentials like gym memberships and diet plans. Psychotherapist Kareena Mehta, too, believes that for prior generations, self-care was likened to yoga, meditation and breathwork.
For Aarushi Agarwal, a 28-year-old freelance journalist and proud millennial, a day off is more about engaging in a hobby like reading or dancing. “During my time off, I give extra attention to spiritual activities like meditation, reading spiritual literature, and spending time at the temple. Some days, I journal, or I cook. Other times, I practice dance for 15 minutes. It wakes my body up if nothing else,” she says. A medical professional, Shweta Shetty (41), engages in similar habits. “Dancing and indulging in a good book are my ideal ways of spending time off.”
Vasudha Kaukuntla, a 27-year-old journalist’s self-care routine involves dedicating time to meditation for anxiety regulation, while 38-year-old doctor Akshata Khanvilkar spends her wind-down time getting pampered at a spa.
So, if journaling and pranayam aren’t self-care for this generation Z, what is? The answer is bed rotting, glimmers and everything shower. Yes, they are real words.
What self-care re-haul is Gen Z up to?
In an earlier conversation on Gen Z’s dating trends, psychotherapist Nishita Khanna explained Gen Z’s obsession with labels. It looks like this holds true for self-care, too, where behaviours that you might’ve been doing on autopilot have been given new terms – glimmers, bed-rotting, and everything shower have been poking their heads in the self-care scene for quite some time now. But what do they mean?
Glimmers – Catching the sunrise or appreciating no red lights on your way to work are all glimmers. The little moments in a day where you pause to appreciate the silver lining are defined as catching glimmers.
Bed rotting – Who would’ve thought lying in bed like a laash will be accepted as self-care at some point? Bed rotting refers to scrolling on your phone or binge-watching as you keep lying horizontal under a pile of dohars, curtains shut tight all day uninterrupted.
Carcass time – A washed-down version of bed rotting, carcass time is when you lay in bed for a couple of hours scrolling through your phone while you muster up the energy (and courage) to put away the ironed laundry that has been glaring at you for a week.
Everything shower – Showers are no longer just for cleaning up. They’re now a self-care environment. An everything shower includes a routine of scrubbing, exfoliation, masks, hair wash, shaving and post-shower skincare. It’s supposed to be a time of treating your mind and body and completely letting the stress off.
Masterdating – A spin on another M word, masterdating is another self-care trend where one is encouraged to date oneself. Unlike solo dates, where you take yourself out for occasional meals, coffee, a movie etc., in masterdating, you literally date yourself the way a partner would – emotionally, physically and mentally and learn more about yourself.
Mehta says that physical and well-being activities are routine to Zoomers. “Gen Zs track and monitor their health parameters like sleep, heart rate and exercises diligently these days with smart watches and rings. They’ve incorporated technology to enhance longevity with regard to general well-being and quality of life.”
Udas attests to this observation, “I don’t necessarily view working out, eating healthy and good food or going out with friends as self-care. To me, these things should be incorporated anyway for general well-being. Self-care is more about preserving yourself and doing something that involves being with yourself and doing stuff that you wouldn’t usually do.”
An increased closeness with the world through social media and advanced technologies at your fingertips means constant exposure to excessive amounts of information and subsequent burnout. This sensory overload might lead Zoomers to indulge in isolated self-care as they attempt to give themselves a break from the world and spend more alone time. “It’s such a fast-paced culture that we live in now, and everyone constantly wants to get on to the next thing. You really need to pause on all of the routine things, the checklist and the calendar invites and give yourself a break. Otherwise, you will burn out (we have a burnout survival kit) and be unable to perform well in any of the activities you hope to do. Burnout is huge in all generations, but Gen Z especially is trying to understand and acknowledge it,” says Mehta.
But she also cautions against getting caught between what it means to tune out the world and actually doing it. She opines that as good as they are with prioritising breaks and setting boundaries, Gen Zs are also a performative generation. They may engage in certain activities perceived as self-care but not actually be. “It seems like with all of these terms, the intention is to show that you are doing self-care outwardly. But inadvertently, you are still consuming more information. You are still thinking and using many cognitive processes while scrolling reels,” she says.
Bed rotting v/s breathwork?
Self-care is all about what works best for an individual. Shukla believes it’s important to understand what your body and mind seek and do it. “When you need a rest day, no amount of exercise will make you feel better, and when your body needs healthy endorphins and energising, laying in bed will be detrimental. I think both play very important roles in our life,” she says.
What Gen Z can learn from the previous generations in this respect is some form of detachment from technology and a balancing act between being online and truly shutting out the world to feel centred. Mehta also says that Zoomers want to see changes in their actions immediately. It’s more about the perception of doing some self-care as opposed to reaping long-term benefits. Cultivating patience to see the positive effects of physical outlets of self-care like exercise and meditation would help their bodies and minds take a pause and recuperate.
On the other hand, the previous generations can take a cue from Gen Z on setting boundaries and taking breaks where no activity is involved to truly treat their mind and bodies to a period of rest and rejuvenation.
Maybe it’s time I start using the wind-down, no notification feature on my phone and schedule some time for surya namaskars and pranayam. There might be some merit in giving up my status as an aaloo for 30 minutes on my days off. A 30-minute mental health walk isn’t so bad when you get to people-watch along the way.