TikTok's 'Filler Episode' Days Are More Than A Trend - They're The Reprieve You Need

Not every TV episode can be enthralling, and not every day can be life-changing — and that might be a good thing. In the world of television scriptwriting, filler episodes are episodes where nothing particularly eventful happens. The storyline won't impact the overall plot and may even be a break from other intense story arcs that have been playing out in the show.

In a case of life imitating art, people on TikTok have started highlighting their own real-life filler episode days, sparking a trend using the hashtags #fillerepisode and #fillerday. The concept first caught on in 2022 when anime-loving users, like Jibreel Moore, attached music commonly used in "Naruto" filler episodes to clips of their own mundane days. Pretty soon, others started working the TV trope into their daily lives too. One creator posted a simple video of themselves walking, with the text, "Anyone else just love filler days- like all I do is go gym, grab an overpriced coffee, people watch and go back to bed." In another clip, a TikToker begs for a filler episode day so they can rest and read a book.

Filler episode days, just like filler episodes in TV series, are inconsequential days that put productivity on pause, aside from low-key tasks like running an easy errand or vacuuming your living room. And even if they sound pretty boring, your schedule probably needs more of them.

Why filler episode days are essential to your success and well-being

If you're used to jam-packed days, seven days a week, you might find that embracing filler episode days actually helps you get more done while avoiding burnout. As Diana Winston, director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA's MARC and co-author of the book "Fully Present," explained to Shondaland, we all need time to sit back and let someone else be the main character — even if it goes against our productivity-powered culture. "People feel guilty doing nothing or not being productive, they might think it's selfish, but taking care of ourselves gives us the capacity to take care of other people," Winston shared. "And if we don't do it, we burn out. So I like to remind people all the time about how important it is."

Even if filler episode days might seem like a waste of precious time, especially when you have a vision board full of goals to work toward, the downtime may be just what you need to find inspiration. According to a 2011 study published in Consciousness and Cognition, when people allow their minds to wander (such as when they have free time without distractions), they spend 48% of their time thinking and planning for the future. As the researchers conclude, "mind-wandering can enable prospective cognitive operations that are likely to be useful to the individual as they navigate through their daily lives."

How to spend your filler episode days

Filler episode days offer relief from a go-go-go lifestyle, so honestly, if you want to spend yours in bed with take-out food and your favorite comfort show playing in the background, we won't judge. However, filler days can also be an opportunity to take a mental health day. "It's about shutting down that sympathetic nervous system response (that's what governs your 'fight or flight response,')" Dr. Amy Sullivan, a psychotherapist, told Cleveland Clinic of mental health days. She suggests doing "whatever makes you feel most grounded and in control," whether that's going for a walk, listening to mood-boosting music, or catching up on sleep.

Filler episode days don't have to be spent alone, and sometimes doing nothing together can be surprisingly meaningful. "Sitting with your family, friends or your partner – even if you're watching something together and not necessarily talking – is a form of connection," Renee McGregor, a sports dietitian and women's health expert, revealed to Stylist. "It provides a sense of safety, a sense of belonging, a sense of contributing to something important — that is so important for our well being."

There are also times when a filler episode day pops up without an invitation. Some days just happen to be mundane, and when those days land in your lap, learn to appreciate them without forcing anything to happen. Just like a TV show, things will likely pick up again in the next episode anyway.