Ever heard of taking a mental health day? While it seems to be an unfamiliar concept in American culture, it’s gaining more traction as Millennials and Gen-Z, or your generation, enters adulthood. Since it’s no secret that college students face a significant amount of stress from their day-to-day routine, you – yes, you! – should consider taking a mental health day.
Defined as a day specifically geared toward stress relief and burnout prevention, a mental health day is one of the most foolproof ways to save your sanity before anxiety fully takes over, inevitably destroying everything in its path, including your academic progress. The ideal mental health day will not only give you the space you need to rest up and recharge, but it will also encourage you to re-evaluate your current perspective and refocus your objectives. Plus, it can include a fun activity, too!
How can you tell when you’re in need of a mental health day, and once you’ve got one scheduled, how should you spend that uninterrupted 24-hour block of time? Well, we’re glad you asked. uCribs is here with all the answers to your burning questions, starting with 4 reasons why you should take a mental health day and how to spend it once you’re in the clear.
Reason #1: You’re burnt out.
Burnout poses a real threat to college students. Although it’s become normal – praised, even – to spend endless hours on assignments, serve on multiple club leadership committees, and commit to a demanding off-campus job, moving at the speed of light for months on end will only lead to the dreaded burnout. It may not seem like a big deal now, but burnout goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression, which can wreak havoc on your health, your grades, and even your personal relationships. Once you’ve officially reached the point of no return – as in, burnout – it’s crucial that you commit a day, or even a long weekend, to your recovery.
Reason #2: You want to avoid burnout.
You know these feelings all too well: you’re extra tired all the time, but you still force yourself to commit to your strict, and often cramped, daily routine. You’re feeling overwhelmed by your assignments, but you haven’t yet missed a deadline. You’re still clocking in to your college internship three days a week, despite having a million other things on your mind. On the surface, you seem fine – however, deep down, you know that you may not be able to keep up the pace much longer. If you resonate with these words, it’s safe to say that burnout might be just around the corner, and you should probably take a mental health day in order to avoid its aftermath.
Reason #3: You keep getting physically sick.
It’s safe to say that college students are some of the most stressed out people around – and there is a huge body of evidence linking stress and illness. In fact, The American Institute of Stress reports that 77 percent of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms incited by stress. Stress weakens your immune system, robbing your body of its ability to defend against even the most minor of illnesses. Stress can also worsen any of the health conditions you already struggle from, whether it’d be diabetes, depression, or asthma. It just bad news for your health, so if you’ve been fighting the same sinus infection for weeks on end, or you can’t seem to kick that cough once and for all, you might want to consider how much stress you’ve been under lately and schedule a mental health day to relieve this common culprit—stat.
Reason #4: You have personal issues that need attention.
As a college student, it’s easy to feel like your day-to-day life involves enough drama as it is – until a very real personal issue, affecting your health, academic or internship status, or relationship(s) with peers, mentors, friends, or family, surfaces. There are all kinds of personal events that can call for a mental health day, from the illness of a pet to a rough breakup, and everything in between. In these cases, it’s imperative that you address your mental health before it derails your academic experience. Hey, college might be ultra-important, but it’s not as important as your well-being – so, don’t feel bad about taking a day when something personal pops up.
You’re in the Clear – Now, Spend Your Mental Health Day Wisely!
After being cleared for a mental health day, it can be tempting to spend your entire day off shamelessly giving in to your guiltiest pleasures. You know the ones we’re talking about: binge-watching your latest Netflix obsession, scrolling endlessly on social media platforms, or devouring an entire cheese pizza in one sitting. But, hold it right there! Since you took time away from your regularly scheduled program, it’s important to spend your mental health day wisely and get the most out of your sacrifice. After all, it’s not like you can take mental health days too often, given that you’re a busy college student. So, why not make your day-off really count?
While we’re not suggesting that you stringently schedule your mental health day, you will want to consider what you hope to gain from this day off and decide how you plan to accomplish it. Are you simply exhausted, and in need of an extra day to sleep? Or, are you seriously overdue for “you time,” spent with no one else but yourself? You might even be feeling so overwhelmed that you have no idea what you should do to remedy the situation.
If you have no clear plan for your mental health day, don’t stress yourself out further by overanalyzing what you “should” be doing to make the most of it. Here are a few activities that can ease your restless spirit, no matter what you may be going through:
- Spend the morning or afternoon at a museum.
- Squeeze in some exercise – whether you hit the gym or get moving elsewhere.
- Call an old friend or a family member.
- Catch up on some sleep.
- Attend a yoga or meditation class.
- Complete a DIY project.
- Go see a movie you’ve been wanting to see in theatres.
- Soak up the great outdoors at your local park.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings.
- Take a short trip – even if you’re heading one town over!
- Whip up a delicious, nutritious recipe.
Stress is often unavoidable when you’re in college and are expected to keep up with challenging assignments, graduation requirements, extracurriculars, and your own personal life. That being said, it’s extremely likely that you can benefit from your very own mental health day. Instead of suffering in silence, speak up for your personal needs and request a day to break from your busy college life. Trust us, once you realize the power of a good mental health day, you’ll probably want to take them more often – within reason, of course!