4 Reasons to Take a Mental Health Day

The concept of the ‘mental health day’ appears to be a fairly new phenomenon. While the number of mental health awareness campaigns and anti-stigma movements increases, there continues to be an even greater social acceptance of the needs of those combatting with hidden illnesses. Considering that there are, nonetheless, many improvements still needing to be made by institutions (such as universities), the fight for the equitable recognition of all health conditions is not over yet– progress is progress.

Whether you come from somewhere that doesn’t legitimize your struggles, whether you’re scared of the social implications of discussing your illness, or whether you’re uncertain of the steps to take in order to receive help, I want you to know that your feelings are valid. More importantly, you and your needs are valid. So, if taking a mental health day– which, of course, will mean different things for different people– is something that you think will benefit you, there is no embarrassment in doing so. In fact, here are some reasons why mental health days are worth taking.

1. Avoid the Burnout

Running faster and faster toward your goals and objectives may often appear to be the right (and only) thing to do; after all, that’s what everyone else appears to be doing. This may cause us to fear that if we slow down or even pause, we will fall behind; however, one serious implication of constantly exerting 110% of your energy is that you can burnout. If you continuously push your breaking point, eventually, you’ll reach it. Scheduling in time throughout the week to focus on the hobbies you love and people that bring you joy is a great way to make room for positive self-growth, while also taking care of your well-being.

2. Quality Time is Not Wasted Time

There is an unfortunate misconception that the time devoted to taking breaks from studying and work is wasted time, and I simply don’t believe this to be true. While setting reasonable boundaries around the time you can afford to allocate to leisure has practical benefits, do not feel like you have to down a coffee or energy drink to force yourself to keep going. It may actually be more useful to take a quick nap or meditate for 15 minutes with the help of a free app, such as ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace.’ As John Lennon said, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

3. Long-Term Productivity

Scientific findings have observed that the brain is a muscle that will tire from repeated stress. A productivity app used to track employees’ computer use, called ‘DeskTime’, revealed that the most productive individuals tended to work for 52 consecutive minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. This suggests that those who work during long, uninterrupted periods of time aren’t necessarily doing themselves a favour, with respect to productivity. If you’re finding that the pastimes you currently engage with aren’t as fulfilling as they once were, this may mean that it’s time to explore new options. You don’t have to wait until the new year to pursue a new interest.

4. “You, First”

Viewing yourself as a valuable investment can be quite challenging– maybe it seems silly, or too abstract. Sometimes, however, the simplest and most obvious ideas right in front of us are the ones worth holding on to. My mother once told me something that I want to share with you: “In list of importance, you come before your dreams and aspirations. You, first.”

If there’s one thing to take away from this list, it’s that the feeling of being alone is one of the most universal sentiments there is. And I get it, some days are hard. Throughout times in your life, it may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel… But it’s there, waiting for you. Even if that doesn’t always seem to be the case, there is always help waiting for you. Whenever you are in need of a break or release of negative emotion, set aside some time to navigate the path that will most healthily allow you to do so. It’s always worth it.

Mental health resources:

  • Queen’s Peer Support Centre (034 John Deutsch University Centre, 99 University Ave)

  • Queen’s Student Wellness Services mental health contact ([email protected])

  • AMHS-KFLA 24-hour crisis phone line (613-544-4229)