Sometimes, life can be overwhelming. Pile on the exams and the extra long papers while trying to get enough sleep and maintain a social life, like can get super stressful, super fast. And sometimes, we need a break, even if it’s for a day. Enter mental health days.
Ah…Mental health days! An increasingly popular “excuse” to take a day off and get some “R and R”, this phenomenon has actually been starting to show major benefits. Why should taking a day to rest your mind make you feel guilty? Why can’t it be the same as taking a sick day? Our brain is just as important as our body, so we should be taking care of it the same way, right?
While taking sick days to recover from a stomach bug or a bad migraine is rather common and acceptable, you should also consider taking a mental health day to balance your emotional state when necessary. If we don’t take these days when they’re most needed, the stress and emotional imbalance will build up to such a point that we could end up breaking down at the worst possible moment (also known as that moment when you hit a “mental breakdown”).
The amazing thing about embracing a day like this is that once you are able to recharge, you can come back to your work and your studies and be more productive than you would’ve been without the break.
Know the Difference
We all know people (or maybe it’s even been you) who skip class because they’d rather watch Parks and Rec or Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. This is not the same as needing a mental health day, and it’s important to make the difference between those kinds of days and the actual need to take a mental health day.
Clear signs are feeling exceptionally stressed and physically exhausted to the point where you feel like you are about to “snap”. This can occur due to an unexpected life event that you need to process, or just because of the sheer overwhelming feelings that often come with being an adolescent college student.
It is important to not abuse these days, but also to be aware that if you feel the need to take several of these during the semester, that there may be a more serious underlying problem that you’ll want to give proper attention.
Get the most out of a Mental Health Day
Although it’s tempting to sleep all day or spend your afternoon in bed watching Netflix, it’s important to get out of your dorm, apartment, or house and do something physically or mentally stimulating. Find what will recharge you and bring back that positive energy. It could be seeing a friend, listening to music, catching up on some reading, or even meditating—basically anything that allows your body and mind to rest and reenergize.
It’s Okay to Skip that Class!
We know it’s common for students to get sick and send an email to a professor that reads “I haven’t been feeling well recently so I won’t be in class this afternoon,” is perfectly acceptable. If they trust that you are truly sick, they may assume you have the flu—even if it’s really your stress that’s making you feel so unwell. It makes no difference how you word it—either way, you are not at your 100 percent and it’s up to your own discretion how much you would like to share. Most teachers are actually really understanding when it comes down to it.
The most important thing about taking a mental health day, if you choose to do so, is to not make yourself feel guilty. There is no need to apologize to anyone because this is your personal, mindful decision and you should embrace it. Sometimes we all need a break, so make sure you pay attention to your body, and know when it needs one!
By: Laurie Thompson