We all try to do things that improve our health and wellbeing, and just generally make us feel good about ourselves - whether it’s trying to eat our five a day, workout in the morning or perform a full skincare routine. These may be things that we know would benefit us, but in reality they can be hard to carry out on a regular basis as other things tend to get in the way; perhaps we’d rather eat something different, sleep in longer or spend more time doing another activity like watching TV or scrolling social media.
Some people are making themselves do these things though by taking part in a new TikTok trend called “delusional week”. Videos related to delusional week, or delusion week as it is also called, have got around 608 million views on the popular social networking site, and that number is continuing to grow. Although many people are taking part in this trend, experts are unsure about the effect this short time approach to doing things that are beneficial for us will have on people’s wellbeing in the long term.
So, just what is a “delusional week”, what kind of activities have people been performing during them, and what is the impact on our mental health by doing this? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a delusional week?
Put simply, a delusional week is where a person performs tasks in order to be what they perceive to be their best self for a whole week, no matter how they feel. For example, this might be going to bed early every night, doing a full skincare routine, waking up early, going to the gym before work, drinking water and eating just healthy food. This is a challenge as carrying out such a routine, day in and day out, without being distracted by daily life can be difficult. It is called delusional simply because performing these kinds of idealistic rituals and routines every day are usually unrealistic.
Chartered psychologist Catherine Hallissey said that the term delusion week is problematic. She said: “Delusions are false beliefs that are not based on reality. They can take many forms including persecution, paranoia or grandiosity and can be a symptom of a diagnosable mental health condition. The term delusion should not be used lightly as part of trends or entertainment. The term delusion week can be harmful by minimising and normalising delusional thinking and may actually deter people from seeking appropriate support.”
Where did the delusional week trend come from?
Some of the most popular videos with the #DelusionWeek hashtag have been created by a TikTok user called Danielle Walter, who has 177,000 followers on the site. In a video introducing the concept to her followers, Walters said: “I want my life to start feeling like I have everything put together more often than not. So, I’ve decided to enter what I’m calling my delusion week where I hijack my free will and do the things that the hottest, most successful version of myself would do.”
During the video, Walter states, however, that the original idea is not hers. She said she was inspired by another TikTok user, a woman called Kaylin Mally for the concept and also by another TikTok user Tay Crumbs for the “overall vibes”. She added: “To completely hijack my life without an end date feels too big so I’m just starting with the week”. Walter then posted a video blog at the end of each day of the week, and a weekly summary of the whole experience, so viewers could follow her on her journey.
What activities have people been doing during delusional weeks?
Walters gave a list of the things that she would do during her delusional week, include:
- going to bed early
- waking up early
- having a set schedule for every day including all meals and activities which is prepared the night before
- planning her outfits ahead of time
- reading and journaling instead of watching Netflix or scrolling through social media
- taking time to work towards her goals each day.
Other TikTok users have set themselves strict time limits for all of their activities, for example, bed by 11pm and up by 6am. Other activities that other people have engaged in as part of their delusion week include drinking a gallon of water each day, eating all meals at home rather than eating out, eating nutritious food only, walking 10,000 steps a day and tidying up rooms in the house before bed.
What impact could a delusional week have on people’s mental health?
Several experts have told NationalWorld that they believe taking part in a delusional week could have both positive and negative impacts on a person’s mental health.
Hypnotherapist Vic Paterson said the trend may give people the inspiration they need to make positive changes, however, it may also lead to feelings of failure. She said: “Recognising that it’s possible to engage in self-care, even if life is difficult, is excellent. The delusion week, however, encourages the idea that short term change is all that’s needed. For some challenges, like skin care or sleep, a week is enough time to see a difference but for others, like dieting, it’s not. Often the change that is carried out isn’t sustainable which can lead to feelings of low self worth when you fail to maintain that change. It also encourages you to compare yourself against others which can lead to negative feelings if you don’t see the same supposed improvements.”
Relationship coach Dawn Lucht is also concerned that the trend could cause people to put unnecessary pressure on themselves to be the allegedly perfect person. Lucht reminded us: “There is a common misconception that to be living a successful and healthy life you need to be living your supposed best-self every day. This creates incredibly high expectations for ourselves that are unsustainable and detrimental. As a general rule many of us suffer with the idea that in order to be loved, loveable and be successful we have to be what we think is perfect. As a result we experience so much pressure and anxiety and end up feeling overwhelmed when we then cannot live up to these expectations. We go into a shame spiral and the inner-critic becomes deafening.”
Chris Finn, a psychologist turned mindset coach, however, believes delusional week can be helpful for people because it gives them a reason to truly affect positive change. Finn said: “People rely on motivation to perform tasks. When we really explore what motivation is it comes down to a feeling. Therefore its power can be limited because frankly sometimes you won’t be feeling it. Commitment, however, is much stronger as it’s about who you are committed to being and you’ve already made a decision that you are or aren’t going to something. Delusion week can teach people that they don’t need to rely on motivation to get things done. If they make a commitment to do these things, they will find that their commitment is much stronger than any feelings of motivation.”
Dipti Tait, a solution focused hypnotherapist, also believes that if people want to make positive changes in their life then partaking in delusional week will help them to get into a positive and determined mindset. She also advised that “the list of apparent good things that people do, do not have to be monumental, just small things and positive actions and activities”. She said that once a person has started to think more positively this can actually affect change within how they use their brain. “They then quite naturally begin to shift their thought processes into the left prefrontal cortex part of the brain, which is also known as our intellectual mind, and this can very quickly shift and help them look forward to things”. She added: “Thinking from the intellectual mind encourages a nice flow of happy chemistry, such as a good natural boost of serotonin and dopamine which of course helps the person feel much more uplifted and rewarded.”
Psychologist Anna Sergent, however, worries that the idea that people have to do something, no matter how they feel, could be problematic. Sergent added: “The established routine could be helpful with feeling grounded, however, there is a difference between a helpful routine and a routine that changes into a compulsion. When diverging from an every day routine causes anxiety or feelings of guilt there may be a cause for concern. Strive to be the best yourself by attuning to your needs. Allow yourself to rest if you don’t feel like exercising on a particular morning, even if it is not your scheduled rest day, or have that dessert if you feel like something sweet. Following moderation rules and listening to yourself could be the way to achieving your true potential and enjoying life as it is.”
Hallisey agrees that the trend could cause issues if people feel like they are forcing themselves to do something. She said: “Pushing through with your routine, as is advocated in delusion week, without taking into account what your body truly needs in that moment means you may override your body’s signals. It’s important to not fall into the toxic positivity trap of thinking that your worth is based on your productivity or a series of actions you take. It’s ok to not be your best self at all times. Rather, it’s more helpful to tune into yourself and what you really need in the moment rather than equating your worth with how productive you were or whether you completed all the tasks in your delusion week routine that day.”