Skip to content

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.”

And this:

“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

Image: Domenico Campagnola (Italian, before 1500 – 1564 ), Venus Reclining in a Landscape, 1517, engraving, Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • Great article. I am sending this to everyone I know. xo

  • I make no bones about it. I’m not ashamed….NAPS! Nothing like crawling under a quilt in the middle of the day for a few minutes of rest. Nothing like a 2 hour nap, but that 20-30 minutes of bliss.

  • I took a nap yesterday! And boy oh boy did I have to fight not to feel guilty about it. You make such good points–points I can hug to my favorite pillow–in this post. Thanks, Max.

  • Good rest is both critical and elusive in my life these days. I have been on the Quest For The Perfect Or At Least Adequate Pillow for some months now. As a result, my dog now has an entire collection of pillows, and I am planning to make a pillow from scratch. (Not with scratch, obviously. That would be painful.) Wish me luck!

    • I find if you combine inadequate pillows with worn-out old flattened pillows, you can get a decent approximation of an adequate pillow.

      • I wonder if she’ll give some of them back!

  • As a former martyr, above-average voluptuary myself (props for that delicious turn of phrase), I appreciate this so much! I’m much more able to help others with my oxygen mask in place.

    • I think our next mug has to say “ABOVE-AVERAGE VOLUPTUARY” on it. #GOALZ

      • I for one will buy by the dozen.

  • I look a lot like that Venus in the illustration, except my belly is bigger, having just undergone major (and unexpected) abdominal surgery followed by a serious cancer diagnosis. I plan to have a LOT of rest in my future! Now if I could just get my knitting mojo back — I have many productive hours ahead of me.

    • Judy! I wish you luck and speedy healing.

  • To anyone who has experienced, or has a family member who has experienced depression, has bipolar disorder or anyone with mental health issues, it rings major alarms to see someone make a claim that sleep deprivation can “cause” it – and as you say “make us lose our minds”. First, people with mental health conditions have not “lost their minds”. No mental health professional would ever use such cavalier language when it comes to issues around any particular mental state, whether it be calm, manic, depressive or even psychotic. This language perpetuates the dangerous stigma and fear around mental health. We know that Bipolar Disorder is widely considered to be an inherited condition with various triggers – but none has specifically to do with how much sleep one is getting. Furthermore, sleep disorders are more common in those who have acute mental health issues, and can often accompany episodes of mania or depression. Often times, insomnia is one of the warning signs for a manic episode.

    Max, I urge you the reconsider your phrasing. It is simply wrong, and it is hurtful. For anyone wanting to learn more about mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, you can go to the National Alliance on Mental Health’s website and learn about evidence-based research on causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments for a variety of mental health disorders.

    • I went back to reread the original post. I appreciate that Max very carefully worded her take on sleep deprivation and its effects. I have a family member who has bipolar disorder and narcolepsy. I do not take issue with her statement that sleep deprivation is linked to some mental health issues. I have seen first hand how it exacerbates them. She did not say that sleep deprivation caused them.

    • Narangkar, thank you. That is maybe the kindest “rethink your position” comment I’ve ever seen. I shall do that. Peace.

      • Thank you so much. Love, N

  • lovely post!

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping