BTS and self-care: Why BTS is good for physical, mental, and emotional well-being

Last week, August 15, 2020, I joined a panel on Rhizome Connect to talk about my personal experience on how I was able to channel my BTS fangirling into a more significant form.

Rhizome Connect is a virtual event hosted by the Rhizomatic Revolution Review to connect with ARMYs around the world at a time when we cannot gather together physically. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the impact of BTS on people and the world. 

I was invited by a friend and fellow ARMY, Ampy Corpus, who moderated the panel. Ampy is a strategic communications expert based in Singapore and she is passionate about lifelong learning, mindfulness, pop culture, film, history and trends.

Also part of the panel are fellow ARMYs and Titas of BTS members Dette Rome Dette, a seasoned communications professional and financial planner; Nicole Mangondato, an outsourcing professional who helps individuals get their dream jobs; and Chin Ann Obiedo, a fashion, beauty, and features writer.

Our panel, titled “BTS and self-care,” centered around the topic of why BTS is good for physical, mental and emotional well-being. Especially now that we are going through very difficult times, mainly because of the ongoing pandemic, people tend to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and unsettled.

To the best of our abilities, we all try to find ways to cope and survive. Now more than ever, we realize the importance of self-care in order for us to stay sane and focused.

Self-care comes in many different forms. Some found their peace and calm through hobbies like baking, crafting, playing instruments or by becoming plantitas. For ARMYs, BTS became a big part of their self-care routine as they looked to the group as a source of comfort, positivism, strength, and inspiration.

Through the panel, I was able to share my story on how BTS practically stopped me from getting lost in the gloomy and dispiriting trance of the pandemic, and helped me find my path back to happiness and productivity.

You can watch the full video of our panel HERE or visit the Rhizome Connect website to also see the other panels and activities that happened during the event.

CLICK HERE to watch our panel frm Rhizome Connect

I am also sharing below my answers to the questions raised during the panel. Through my story, I hope I am able to help you find what you’re looking for in terms of self-care — regardless if it involves BTS or not. 🙂

What does self-care mean to you in general and why is it important?

To me, self-care is being able to do the things that make you feel calm, relaxed, and connected with yourself — allowing yourself to be comforted, pampered even, and giving yourself space to rest and recuperate. 

I think it is very important that we all practice self-care, especially for moms or parents who literally look after other people 24/7. When you’re responsible for the lives of others, it’s inevitable for you to lose yourself in the midst of fulfilling that role. You tend to focus on the people you need to take care of so much that you end up leaving nothing for yourself and I feel that is dangerous because you never know where you’d end up when things start to get rough. 

You need to do your self-care, whatever that may be, to help re-instill in your mind and heart that while the people you love and others around you are integral to your life, you are important, too; and you don’t need to rely on others to take care of you because you can do it on your own through self-care.

Where does BTS fit in your definition of self-care?

Even before BTS, I’ve always subscribed to the idea that you can’t pour water out of an empty cup or you can’t give love if you don’t even have enough love for yourself. I actually built the theme of my personal blog Mommy’s Day Out around that idea. The platform serves as a space for moms to find ideas on how to love themselves while being a parent, so it’s really more of a lifestyle blog than a parenting blog.

When I discovered BTS in March this year, I somehow felt validated that the purpose of my work isn’t something ridiculous at all, but rather something that should be given importance, too.

Here in the Philippines, we were raised to become family-oriented. Sacrificing your own happiness for the happiness of others, especially your family members, is an idea that has been passed down to us by our elders. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because I think self-sacrifice is one of the most noble expressions of love. However, that line of thinking has also muddled the importance of loving yourself in the context of a relationship — be it between families, partners, friends, etc.

BTS fits into my definition of self-care both figuratively and literally, because they didn’t just inspire me to push for my ideals about promoting self-care, they’ve also literally accompanied me through my own self-care journey, which has helped me a lot in going through this pandemic. I started caring for my body again by doing intermittent fasting (something I learned from Suga) and I’ve also been exercising daily with BTS songs in the background, which is really motivating for me.

Did you build a specific BTS self-care routine around a specific bucket of self-care (physical, mental, emotional) or do you go about your self-care practice in a more spontaneous way?

I was able to develop a more sensible self-care routine, thanks to BTS. In the first month of the quarantine here in the Philippines, I literally let myself fall into a depressing blackhole. It’s not like I was crying or having fits and mood swings everyday, but more of lying on the couch all day, sometimes even missing a day of taking a bath, doing literally nothing other than binge-watch K-dramas until my head hurts, and just generally lacking inspiration and motivation to do something productive.

When I started immersing myself in BTS around late March, I got to read stories about their perseverance and hard work to get to where they are today. That made me realize that I’m wasting my life away! These boys are 8-13 years younger than me and they’ve already accomplished so much, yet here I am acting like a rotten vegetable. So I took baby steps and decided for myself that “Okay, let’s do this self-improvement thing one at a time, starting with my body,” and that’s how I got into intermittent fasting and developing my own exercise routine, which I’ve written about in my blog. That’s for the physical.

For the mental and emotional buckets, I took care of that part when I built this Facebook Group called Titas of BTS, which is a community of Filipinas born before 1992 (the year the oldest BTS member, Jin, was born) who admire the group. In this space, we all virtually gather to share BTS content and exchange whatever thoughts or feelings we have about BTS for the day. It’s fun and chaotic — much like how the BTS guys are — and I feel like I get extra boosts of serotonin and endorphins every time I interact with the members of the group.

Although this activity involves other people, I still consider this a part of my self-care routine because knowing that there are other people out there who are similar to me in terms of age range, who also share the same passion that I have for BTS, is a really comforting thought. It makes me happy and it adds to the list of things I look forward to doing when I wake up everyday. 

Why do you think BTS forms such a big part of ARMY’s self-care routine?

I think it’s because we see them as real people and not some fancy, fake celebrities. They show us their professional side, their best foot forward whenever they go on stage or do press interviews, but they’re also not afraid to show us their flaws and tell us about their insecurities, fears, and weaknesses, and I find that very comforting to know that even international artists like them are also going through the same things as I or we do.

All those seven years of social media content where they have consistently shown their true personalities — I don’t think that is something you can fake. So, when ARMYs realize how the boys have matured, improved, and gotten better over time, it allows us to think that we can achieve something, too — if only we put our heart and soul into it and never give up on that dream or goal.

It also helps that the guys are so warm and comforting in their words whenever they speak to ARMY, like they did in Youtube’s Dear Class of 2020. That was actually one of my biggest motivators to get back on track with my work and somehow start fixing my life to adjust to our new normal under the pandemic.

Do you think spending too much of your self-care time with BTS is selfish? Do you feel other parts of your life suffered because of your self-care routine?

I must admit that I’m still in the process of really reorganizing my life and balancing my time for BTS self-care and my time for family and work. I can’t judge myself whether I’m being selfish towards my family whenever I start spending time consuming BTS content (which also forms part of my self-care routine because it makes me feel good watching them), but there is nothing that a little discussion with my husband can’t solve. 

If there is one thing I learned from RM, it’s that to speak yourself and also learn how to truly listen to the people around you. So for me, as long as you have an understanding with the people around you about why you are spending a lot of time doing self-care with BTS, then I don’t see how that is selfish because you, your happiness, and your sanity are important, too.

It would be nice, too, if we ARMYs can encourage the people around us to practice their own self-care routines, whatever that may be. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve BTS, but I hope we can impart the things we learned from BTS to them so they too can experience that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that we get whenever we do our own self-care routine.

Tell me about a particular song or lyrics that really touched your soul and that constantly helps you through life’s challenges?

Jungkook’s “My Time” is my all-time favorite BTS song. I understand what it means to JK as a boy who grew up in the limelight and feels like he missed parts of his youth because he was too busy with his career. In some way, that song spoke to me as a woman in her mid-30s and still struggling to accomplish something in life. I guess it’s that line “Don’t know what to do with, am I living this right?” which I’ve also asked myself soooo many times. Somehow, I interpreted Jungkook’s loneliness in that song as my own longing to be someone of value to society or at least to the people around me.

But what I particularly love about “My Time” is the way Jungkook changed up the lyrics in the last chorus from “I can’t call ya, I can’t hol’ ya, I cna’t touch ya” to “I will call ya, I will hol’ ya, I will touch ya,” which to me was a real wake up call that “Hey, I’m still alive, I still have time to do the things I want to do or need to do to get to where I want to be.” So until then, I just have to keep running ‘wearing your hat low,’ like Jungkook also sang in the bridge of the song, and just keep going because one day I will get to call and hold and touch that thing that I want most in life and that’s a really powerful message for me.

If you are going to give baby ARMYs tips on how to create a BTS-centered self-care routine, what tips would you give them?

I, too, am a baby ARMY and I am just lucky to have been hit with inspiration early in my young ARMY life. My advice: Don’t feel pressured to start something right away and just enjoy your fangirling/fanboying moments because inspiration and motivation to start your own self-care routine (whether it’s BTS-centered or not) will just hit you when you least expect it.

Perhaps you can try setting a goal for yourself — it doesn’t have to be big — then follow that with some research on what the members do about that same goal and start from there. I swear, whatever it is that you’re looking for, there is a BTS content for it, so don’t be shy to go online and read up on some BTS history. Also, try to consume your BTS content with an open mind and heart, because they really are inspiring inside and out. Even in moments when they’re being chaotic crackheads, you’ll be able to find little nuggets of joy and wisdom.

BTS has a new reality show, In The SOOP, which shows them doing self-care activities as well. What are you looking forward to see in the show?

I am looking forward to see Jungkook playing the guitar and I want to see what the others are also up to. They’ve mentioned in their recent VLives that they’re all trying to spend time learning something new over the quarantine, so hopefully we can get a preview of that.

I’m trying to set a new goal for myself to try and pick up a new skill as well, so maybe Jungkook and his hyungs can help me again with this. 🙂

Pyschologically speaking, what would you say is the biggest impact of BTS to your well-being?

One of my favorite BTS quotes was from Suga’s speech in Dear Class of 2020. When he said, “Take your hands off what you can’t control and get your hands on what you can change,” I think that summarizes the overall impact that BTS had on me when I met them in the middle of this crazy pandemic.

I used to be a neurotic mess — well, I still am — but since BTS, I have been consciously looking after that part of myself and try to be less neurotic as I can possibly be.

I super subscribe to the idea that not all of us will be given the same power as BTS to change the world, but we all have the power to change ourselves for the better so that in effect we may become useful to the rest of the world. It’s really all about loving yourself, caring for yourself, and feeling good about yourself enough that you are able to share good vibes with others.

I’m also trying to learn and embody RM’s mindfulness and Jin’s sincerity when it comes to listening to others, so that I may also understand how I can be of better help to other people.