The Value of a Mental Health Day

stressed student sitting on a desk full of books and rubbing their temples

Life is often overwhelming, stressful, and chaotic. This is particularly true for college students challenged with juggling their personal lives with academic deadlines, exams, and a constant supply of assignments. This continuous amount of responsibilities can become incredibly overwhelming and have the potential to become detrimental to one’s mental and physical health. According to the National College Health Assessment survey conducted in 2015,  32% of college students are afflicted by mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. With all the stressors brought on by college life, it is important to take the occasional mental health day to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate in the midst of a rough academic season. Doing so will help alleviate stress and anxiety, potentially preventing serious mental health issues from developing.

When to take a mental health day

Mental health days should be taken when you feel incredibly overwhelmed and stressed out by your responsibilities. Take a day off if you find yourself thinking “I have way too much work” or “I am really overwhelmed and unhappy”. Try to foresee the rough patch ahead of time and schedule your day off in advance. Make the mental health day something to look forward to and plan around it. Doing so will help you truly enjoy the time off rather than worrying about the consequences of suddenly taking a personal day.

Why take a mental health day

As Dr. Adam Perlman of Duke Integrative Medicine says, “We try to convince ourselves that feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and not having time to take a day off is normal — but it’s not normal”.  It is incredibly unhealthy and potentially dangerous to feel continuously stressed and overworked. This is why it is crucial to take the occasional day off. When workloads and other stressors start to pile up it is more beneficial to your health, and productivity, to take a day or two to recuperate. Doing so will increase your happiness and productivity while also preventing more serious mental health issues from developing.

What to do during one

During a mental health day it is crucial to just take the day for yourself. Focus on relaxation and rejuvenation. Don’t plan a lot of activities or chores to do, the day is centered around both mental and physical rest. Binge a new Netflix series, read an exciting book, take a nap, go for a walk. What you do doesn’t matter, but don’t allow yourself to worry or focus on the work you have to do or the stressors in your life. Letting your mind and body take a break should be your only goal.

Overall mental health days can be incredibly beneficial to the individual who takes one. They allow for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation giving the participant the opportunity to escape the overwhelming realities of life for a while. When it comes down to it work, school, and social responsibilities are nowhere near as important as your mental health. You should never allow these things to cause you great stress and anxiety because these feelings could potentially become a more serious mental health issue. There is no shame in needing a break from responsibilities and taking one could be exactly what you need to reclaim your life.