Ain't Nothing Wrong with Taking a Break: The Importance of Mental Health Days
You tossed and turned all night long. You’ve got three papers due this week. You burned your toast, stubbed your toe, it’s colder than a mutha and your hair just won’t cooperate. You’re probably going to lose your cool on the first person who looks at you too hard. I think you’d better take a mental health day.
If you wake up feeling like this, stay home. No, seriously, do not leave the house.
My first two years of university, I lived at home and didn’t have a job. So, I managed to truck through the terms, attend nearly every class and maintain my sanity. Third year came and I was working 24 hours a week, plus keeping house and balancing a few extra-curricular activities. All my nights were long and all my days were moody and I was nearly always on the verge of exploding. And then one day I got up and said, “Nope, not today!” I pulled the covers over my head and slept in til noon. I painted my toe nails purple, ate too many chips and watched some movies. And I didn’t feel bad for it. I felt great, actually.
This is the beauty of a mental health day. It’s a chance to destress and just breathe when you feel like life is choking you out. Of course it’s a matter of calculation. If you can’t afford to miss work, then better not do it on a work day. If you’ve got a midterm on Wednesday, then you probably shouldn’t do it then either. But if you’ve got some cash in your savings account and your professor is just going to put the lecture slides online later, call into work, put away your notebook, and crawl back into bed.
You know yourself better than anyone else, so only you can know when you’re stressed to your breaking point. On days like those, it’s okay to take a break, to say, “I’m not doing jack shit today,” and mean it. And don’t feel guilty. You’re taking care of you. You wouldn’t feel bad for calling into work if your stomach was unsettled so why feel bad for taking the day off when your mind is? Our society promotes this “Just keep trucking” attitude that sometimes isn’t doable. We also like to pretend that metal health isn’t a thing we ought to talk about, or act on. But when you’re on the vergeof breakdown due to stress, there’s a very real problem there, and you definitely shouldn’t ignore it. Mental stress can and does affect your health and productivity. When you’re stressed, you become more prone to illness and now you’re stuck in bed for a week with a head cold, instead of willingly lounging around for a day with a bottle of Bambino.
Now don’t be mistaken, I am not promoting laziness. Mental health days aren’t about a lack of motivation or ambition or about feeding into your procrastination. It’s meant to give you a break, an opportunity to breathe when you’re drowning under all your obligations.
So, next time you’re feeling like Friday is a tad too far way, and there’s a good chance of you losing your job or sanity if you leave the house, put your obligations down for a day and just do what makes you feel good. Eat. Sleep. Dance in your favourite undies (or naked). Sit in the park and breathe in your freedom. Call a friend. See a movie. Re-read your favourite book. Play Madden or 2K or Super Mario Smash Brothers. Whatever it takes to get you back on track and refuelled. Trust me, your mind will thank you.