How to Rest

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Saturday morning of a long weekend and there is, for the moment, enough time. You play that trick: If Monday is a holiday, then today is really Friday, and if today is Friday, then the weekend hasn’t even begun yet! Three full days, an almost embarrassing bounty. The unrun errands will be vanquished. You’ll spend time with your family and your friends, take on an ambitious cooking project, finally address that creaky cabinet door. See a movie in the actual theater? Read a whole book from start to finish? Yes and yes! Right now, it’s all possible.

Of course, it’s early still. You might, for the moment, stay here, under the covers, and ponder. When faced with the boundless possibility of a long weekend, there is nothing so perversely tempting as staying in or returning to bed. All this time to gloriously and productively fill; why not waste a little? It’s not really “wasting,” is it? It’s self-care, it’s seizing agency, as a sleep psychologist told The Times. If this time is really and truly yours, then it’s yours to spend or squander as you choose.

Last year, a regrettably named trend belched up from the dark cauldron of TikTok: bed rotting. To “rot” is to spend the day under the covers, scrolling one’s phone, napping, bingeing a show, staring at the ceiling. Some doctors praised the practice as a necessary form of rest; others warned it could signal depression. Recently, the more Seussian-sounding notion of the “hurkle-durkle,” a 19th-century Scottish term for lingering in bed when one should be up and about, has risen in popularity.

Both practices are concerned with defiance of worldly cares, with the tension between being a responsible member of society and snuggling beneath layers of blankets. This is a grim continuum on which to exist, skating between the poles of high-achieving hustler and dissolute layabout. Even as successive generations take to social media to grapple with this tension in real time, even as a pandemic-intensified thoughtfulness regarding burnout and work-life balance suggest that a holistic embrace of deep relaxation without guilt might be possible, our bias for getting things done over getting cozy persists. We love checking things off lists, we disdain any behavior with a whiff of laziness.

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