Earlier this year, at a supper meeting of my cookbook club (we pick a book, practice on our own, make dinner together, then pick another book; I wholeheartedly recommend this to you all), we told each other about signs we’d seen while marching on Washington and the other places. Here is one my friend Bev, a sister knitter, reported:
What do we want?
When do we want it?
A witty reminder that some struggles have gone on a very, very long time indeed. And may continue for yet a while. So …
What do we need if our struggle continues?
It is hard to say which is the most important aspect of self-care. But I know for sure that in times of unrest, personal or political, rest is a piece of self-care that becomes even more important.
Rest is a weapon. —Jason Bourne
Even before the recent surge in political action, I heard many people question the legitimacy of self-care—as a topic for discussion, and as a reasonable concern for privileged women living in a world of inequality.
As always, my answer is that selfishness and self-care are different things. That self-neglect helps no one, and usually harms more people than we think. And that if we want to be of real help to others, we need to bring them some actual strength.
Our struggles usually aren’t very cinematic. They probably won’t take us to glamorous European capitals, or involve Swiss bank accounts, motorbike chases or amnesia. But we can take a move out of Jason Bourne’s playbook, and rest for fitness.
Whether personal or political, our labors can last a lifetime. Injustice, bills, offspring with needs, and the dishes—we can’t count on them to give us a break. We will probably need to make our own breaks. Regularly.
So that we have energy to carry on with.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead. —Warren Zevon
People often say this in their twenties. Living it is a major cause of the zombification process so often seen in one’s forties.
I do not have the secret to time travel, or I would advise you to go back to your twenties and get in bed. The next best thing is to stop fighting the need for sleep now. Science tells us that adult humans need seven to nine hours of sleep.
Or we can lose our minds. Sleep deprivation is linked to depression, bipolar disorder, and in the extreme, psychosis. Sleep-deprived doctors make more patient errors than their well-rested counterparts. Sleep-deprived drivers perform as badly as those over the legal alcohol limit (even in the UK, US and Canada, where blood-alcohol limits are higher than in Europe). Sleep deprivation has been linked to elevated levels of ghrelin—the hunger hormone, and thus is believed to contribute to obesity.
We need rest to be able to think. Because we want to bring our brains to whatever we’re engaged with.
No rest for the wicked, and the righteous don’t need any. —Anonymous
Wrong! Everyone needs rest.
Good works and righteousness do energize a person. But they don’t overturn the laws of biology.
Pillows are very important. . . . You have to rest your greatness. —DJ Khaled
In the Self-Care Menu, I wrote a little about the idea of comfort, and how much unnecessary discomfort most of us tolerate. If I ask you right now “Are you comfortable?” chances are you’d say yes.
But if DJ Khaled were to appear, he would suggest adding a pillow. Or a half dozen. When asked on NPR if he was serious about his pillow advice, he replied:
“I mean that so literally. I’m talking about, you have to rest your greatness, you know? I have a lot pillows in my bed, my tour bus—every time I turn, there’s a pillow. You know, if I turn to the left, the right. If I turn my whole body. If my leg moves. It’s just pillows everywhere.”
“When you’re supposed to sleep, you’ve gotta sleep like a king or a queen. Every time you turn, there should be something comfortable to greet you, and that softness reminds you of parts of your body.”
Whether or not you regard Khaled as a man of true greatness, I think we can all agree these are the words of an above-average voluptuary.
Solid advice, too. Comfort is often available at no extra charge—especially home comforts—and for little investment of time. We may not all have a tour bus to lounge in, but I can’t come up with a reason not to rest our own greatness, or our averageness.
Next time: A lot of our culture disagrees, and tells us that comfort only makes us weak and rest is just slacking off. So we’re going to talk about productivity.
More reading: DJ Khaled Throws Us the Keys