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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / March 2022 / Revenge Wellness: Enjoyment Despite Opposing Forces

Revenge Wellness: Enjoyment Despite Opposing Forces

By: Melissa Nunes-Harwitt, L.M.S.W.

Do you ever stay up late scrolling social media? During the pandemic, a Chinese term translated as "revenge bedtime procrastination1" has grabbed attention due to its relatability. Many people find themselves doing unfulfilling activities late at night despite knowing that they will be tired the next day.

How is this revenge? In the past two years, many factors have led to frustrating and disempowering circumstances with reduced access to free time or self-care. Autonomy, enjoyment, and regular breaks from stressors are human needs. A lack of healthy, supportive choices during the day can trigger distress and resentment about the excessive burdens you have to shoulder. The natural urge to get what you need resembles a sense of revenge when it has to be taken back with an effort. 

The solution to dissatisfaction is not simply to go to bed earlier. In order to change this pattern, you need to increase your outlets for choice, delight, and rest: in other words, you need to practice “revenge wellness” that addresses your needs in the face of opposing forces. Revenge wellness involves being honest with yourself about the current situation and creative in finding alternatives. Here are some ways to insert more meaning in your life, as well as more sleep. 

Recognize that you are overwhelmed by conditions outside your control.
It’s not in your head: there are more stressors in your life than there were before COVID. The long duration has increased the challenge, even if you think you’ve gotten used to the changes. Being prepared for new rules, health concerns, extra work, closed schools, and delayed opportunities takes a toll. You have less to give and many parts of your life are asking for more. 

Show yourself compassion.
Have a conversation with yourself about what’s happening. Imagine that you’re talking to a friend and use the same kind words and acceptance. Offer yourself the space to be sad, worried, or frustrated. And be sure to include the positives: relish all silver linings and tiny wins.

Make a list of activities that provide meaning.
What makes you feel most like yourself? Recall your interests, your hobbies, whatever activities support your well-being and get you into a state of flow. Maybe dinner with friends, reading a book alone, participating in community efforts, going for a run, browsing a store for finds. It’s okay if these memories bring up feelings of loss or grief. Those emotions can co-exist with hope. 

Let your mind wander over the things you miss doing. Keep track of them on your phone and add ideas as they come up. Don’t censor: nothing is too big (international travel), too small (watching snow fall from your window), or too implausible during COVID (throwing large parties). Only chores and to-do items should be written somewhere else; this list is about reconnecting you with joy. 

Create micro-opportunities for enjoyment.
Are you limited in time, money, childcare, privacy, or something else? Assume that you have unexplored options and seek them out. Rather than going to a restaurant, invite friends to sit around a firepit. Create a workout with only household items. Bring your kids to participate in a community event. Explore employee benefits for free classes or discounts to local attractions. Swap childcare with a friend so you each get time alone. Get travel books to plan your next trip, try a recipe you’d bring to a party, text a friend the view from your window. 

"Living well is the best revenge," said poet George Herbert. Practice revenge wellness to bring more joy and meaning into your life. 

If you’re having trouble enjoying the things you used to do, Behavioral Health Partners is here to help.

Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression. Our team of mental health professionals can accurately assess your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment. To schedule an intake appointment, give us a call at (585) 276-6900.


Bunch, E. (2020, July 20). ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ is the Chinese term to describe so many of our nighttime behaviors. Well+Good.

Kadzikowska-Wrzosek, R. (2018). Insufficient sleep among adolescents: The role of bedtime procrastination, chronotype and autonomous vs. controlled motivational regulations. Current Psychology, 39, 1031-1040.

Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Keith Stein | 3/1/2022

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