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How I Spent my Wellness Day: Is Penn State’s Initiative for Mental Health Truly Effective?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Due to COVID-19, Penn State has implemented sporadic “wellness days” throughout our semester to avoid the potential dangers of spring break. While this is a good idea in theory, there has been quite a lot of backlash and questioning surrounding how effective this day truly was for our mental health. 


To determine the truth, I decided to write down what I did throughout the day, and see how much this actually helped me. Was it a relaxing day that allowed me to rejuvenate and decompress, or did it end up making me feel anxious due to my increased workload for the rest of the week? 


I’ll be logging my own personal experience, and you can decide for yourself how relatable this was to your wellness day. 


9:50 a.m.


I woke up ready for a day full of classes and work, until I remembered that it was a “day off.” I would normally have two classes today, so I decided to go back to sleep for my first attempt at self-care. 


10:40 a.m.


I felt well-rested and ready for some breakfast. Since I was supposed to be focusing on my wellness, I went to Bagel Crust instead of making breakfast. After all, I have the whole day to myself, so why not have a little treat? 


I bought a bacon and avocado breakfast sandwich with a French vanilla iced coffee, and I headed home to start relaxing. 


11:30 a.m.


I finished my meal and chatted with my roommate. Normally, these midday conversations feel like procrastination, but today it was a way to enjoy my day and our time together. She did some homework while we talked, not seeming to alter her day very much regardless of it being set aside for wellness. 


When I asked her why, she replied that she had “too much work” to ignore on a Tuesday. This makes me a little nervous, and I thought about checking on the work I have for the week. 


12:45 p.m.


I decided not to look at my planner quite yet since I should have been focused on a relaxing day. To get my mind off the anxiety this brings me, I turned on Netflix to watch “The Crown.” Starting a new series sounds like a good way to enjoy a day off, right? 


I wanted to watch a few episodes, but not too much to get sucked in because I want to allocate my time in the best way possible. It can be hard for me to lounge without feeling lazy. 


3:10 p.m.


My other roommate just got home from work, which made me realize that I’ve been watching this show for longer than I initially intended. She expressed her jealousy for me being able to have a day off, since she was at work all day and now has a boatload of homework to top off the afternoon. 


She sat down and immediately pulled out her laptop, making me think I should do the same. 


3:30 p.m.


I decided to get up and do some yoga in my room instead of homework. It was a great way to relax and forget about the fact that tomorrow will be a busy day since I’m not doing anything particularly productive today. I’ll check in when I’m done! 


4:00 p.m.


I got out of the shower and applied some of the hair products I recently purchased. This felt like a good way to pamper myself. I had a snack and couldn’t help noticing my laptop and planner that seem to be calling my name. I figured I’d just check it quickly…


5:30 p.m.


I had been doing homework for a while now, and I was pretty far behind. I recognized that I have to spend the rest of this day making up for lost time. Usually I like to have my work done by now so I can relax, but I guess I did that in the morning, so I decided to suck it up. 


I’ll just do extra tomorrow. 


6:45 p.m.


I finished some homework but felt like there is still too much to do. Luckily, I don’t have any synchronous courses on Wednesdays, so I should have time tomorrow. Is it just me or does everyone else have more work than usual this week? Ugh. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much time watching Netflix. 


It was time to make dinner, but I’ll do something simple. Tuna fish with mashed potatoes and kiwi. I was running out of real meals, and probably should’ve gone grocery shopping since it was a free day. 


7:30 p.m.


I ate dinner, and I had a THON meeting in 30 minutes. I was trying to decide if I should do more work until then, but I felt too tired. 


10:30 p.m.


My meeting had just finished, and I figured I would lay in bed and scroll through Tik Tok until I fell asleep. The day was somewhat exhausting, and I feel like I spent all day trying to make sure I spent my wellness day in the best way possible. 




If Penn State is truly using this day as a mental health or wellness day, it’s important that our workload reflects that. Otherwise, I could call any random day of any random week a “wellness day,” but it would just be an excuse to procrastinate. 


For myself — and likely for others as well — this day was spent anxiously “relaxing,” or really having no opportunity for self-care at all. Besides not having classes, the amount of homework I had was the same or somehow more. 


If mental health is truly what Penn State is targeting, there needs to be some improvement in the way professors assign work and expectations of employers in State College who want students to come in on this day. Without that, some students will not have a single day off throughout the entire semester.

Class of 2022
Arden Ericson will graduate Penn State in May of 2023. As one of the Campus Correspondents for Her Campus at PSU, she is a double-major in Public Relations and French Language. After graduation, she will pursue a career that combines her passion for educational equity, social justice and French.