I've Been Making My Bed Every Day, But It's Not Changing My Life Yet

Sorry, self-help books, but it's not exactly working for me.
Publish date:
April 28, 2014
cleaning, worrying about everything, making your bed

A few nights ago, I was out getting drinks with a handful of co-workers when one of the interns who works at our office nudged me. "Hey," she said, "So what do you do when you're not, um, at work?"

"Sit in my bed," I said, without even thinking about it.

She gave me kind of a concerned look.

"I mean, I do … things," I said, though at that very moment I couldn't come up with any. "I just, you know. Sit in my bed a lot."

Note to self, I thought as she turned back to the rest of the group, Come up with some hobbies outside of the bedroom next time.

I mean, this particular conversation was obviously not indicative of my entire life. Not to sound like I'm frantically trying to salvage the situation, here, but I do try to spend as much time as possible exploring the city and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I'm sort of embarrassingly in love with Chicago, so I often get a weird, tingly sense of Fear Of Missing Out if I'm not punching things at the gym or poking my head into weird stores or bugging my friends into letting me sprawl on their laps in the park, our faces tilted up toward the sunshine.

For the first few months after I moved here, people would ask me all the time what I was so happy about; it took me a while to figure out that it was because I was smiling, big and broad, without even thinking about it.

All that being said, I've been starting to feel a little run-down lately. This winter's been so long, and I always have a lot of emotional trouble in the spring as the rest of the year begins to sort itself out. Without getting too much into the thorny details, my immediate future has become a bit uncertain, too, which always makes me feel like I'm fighting for purchase on a rug slowly being pulled out from under me.

Hence: an increased amount of time in bed.

These days, because I've been sort of stressed out, I've started defaulting to lying in bed pretty much whenever I'm home, period. If I were any good at multitasking, this wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, my brain automatically equates "bedtime" with "bed activity time," meaning any productivity I would have otherwise had gets sort of shunted by the wayside. It's no coincidence that my friends have started offhandedly referring to my electric blanket as "my boyfriend."

And recently, it's been getting out of hand: I've had laundry sitting in my dryer, for example, for about four days, because I've been "too busy" to actually make the effort of putting it away. Part of that is genuine -- I've been spending a lot of time outside my house as the weather gets warmer, and I'll often work from coffee shops or offices in an effort to resist the gravitational pull of Mattress Temptation. But a lot of that "schedule" also consists of lounging around under my covers reading sci-fi and feeling inexplicably sleepy and glum.

Obviously, this cannot go on for much longer. I work best when I set a routine and stick to it, so the whole "treating my bed like a wolf den" tendency isn't actually helping me feel safer or more calm, just kinda like a trash bag. I have things to do and people to hug, so I need to start getting my ass in gear even when I haven't slept well the night before or don't have any immediate deadlines to meet. In the past, I've heard from blogs like Unfuck Your Habitat and now Refinery29 that making your bed is supposed to help you get your brain together, so I decided to try it for a few days. I've always been a strict advocate of the "You're just going to mess it up again" argument, but I figured, hey, why not give it a whirl.

And ... so far, nothing doing.

I mean, it helps a little. Now, instead of automatically snuggling under the covers when I lie down, therefore having to fight the urge to just hang out there until obligations tug me elsewhere, it feels more like I'm only going to perch there for a second before going about the rest of my day. And it is nice when I first get up in the mornings, when the critical Pants vs. No Pants struggle often drives me back to my duvet after I turn on the coffee maker.

But the whole "clean room = clean mind" thing, which has been touted by many a grown-up human as a way to get yourself on track, just doesn't seem to work for me. In fact, it makes me feel more anxious, like once the bed is made the rest of my room has to be spotless, too. I'm already kind of a worrywart about things that actually matter; I don't need to add "making sure the baseboards are scrubbed" to the list, too.

In theory, I think bed-making is supposed to be the red lipstick of your room presentation: It makes you look and feel a little more ready to kick ass even when your brain is making helpless dolphin sounds. But for me, it acts more like foundation -- it doesn't make a huge amount of difference on its own, but it sets up a framework for building upon that can sometimes be helpful and sometimes just draw attention to all the steps I haven't completed yet.

I'm hoping that as April turns into May, I'll be able to shake off this mini-funk in some way beyond trying to give an ill-fitting pile of IKEA covers hospital corners. In the meantime, I'll probably still continue with the bed-making thing, because pretty much anything is preferable to gradually morphing into a sheets-worm that only sticks her head out to eat unsuspecting passersby.

Do you guys make your bed every day? Does it make you feel more capable, or is it just a one-way ticket to more mood weirdness? If you guys don't mind, I'll be snagging a quick nap while I wait for you to respond.

Kate is definitely Tweeting from bed: @katchatters