Sick Days Don’t Have to be Purely Physical

So far this semester, I have found myself sitting on my laptop for about 80% of the day completing what seems to be a countless amount of assignments. The due dates, quizzes, and weekly discussion forums seem to take priority over taking a self-care break. 2020 has been a chaotic year and many schools and workplaces are encouraging students and their employees to focus on their mental health and wellbeing, but how can this be possible when there seems to always be something that needs to be done? And if you are previously prone to stress and anxiety related to schoolwork like me, the need to get work done often is preferred over taking a mental health day. 

overhead view of a woman sitting in front of her laptop Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Completing work for school should be a main focus of our daily life, but it should not become so pressuring that it becomes harmful towards one’s mental health. It is often hard to explain why we need the day off even though mental illnesses or feeling mentally unwell is counted as feeling sick. There is no cough, cold, or fever so what could possibly be the idea behind not attending classes and completing work? Many parents and adults will just describe it as being ‘lazy’ or an excuse to take the day off from school. In college, we are actually paying for our classes so taking a day off seems like a terrible idea. 

Mental Health Days are crucial despite the stigma behind taking this type of sick day. During my high school job at Dunkin’ Donuts, there were some days where I was absolutely drained even after working for only four hours. My biggest regret is placing too much pressure on myself to excel in every aspect of my life (work, school, social life etc.) without placing my mental wellbeing at the forefront. This is often the story for many high school and college students. For those with a mental illnesses, such as clinically diagnosed depression, performing even the most simple tasks becomes difficult when they are not properly caring for themselves. 

Love yourself written on wall Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst/Shopify A mental health day is for those difficult days when there is no possible way to attend school or work whether it is remote or in-person. Think about it, when a person is sick with the flu or strep throat, their doctors or parents don’t declare them ‘lazy’ and send them to school. They take a day off and stay home and rest. Mental health days are no different and exist to rest and recover from what is preventing the individual to perform simple and more advanced tasks. Many bosses, teachers, and professors will understand if you are out sick for 1-2 days. It is best to see a doctor or talk to a trusted adult or friend if your mental state seems to be unchanged for a long period of time. If you are previously diagnosed with a mental illness, make sure to take the right measures if you know you will be out sick for a long amount of time. This includes finding someone to cover for you at work or asking for missing work before the time off begins. 

Don’t think twice the next time you are feeling ‘off’ and take a day off because it will be worth it and can stop you from spiraling into worse condition.