Mental health days are not a maybe

Stress.

I know the feeling all too well. Stress calls me up after a long day of morning classes and asks how I’ve been. It sees me at Caffé Dallucci sipping my iced coffee in quiet and invites itself over. It stands behind my desk and encourages me to check Canvas for the fourth time in a row to make sure that even though the WIFI kept jumping on and off, my assignment was turned in before 11:59 p.m.  

Stress. Depression. Anxiety. Sleep-deprivation. College students, we endure it all. Some might even say that this is what to expect when we come to a university. I would agree. It is inevitable. We juggle. We multitask. On top of being full time college students, some of us hold jobs and are attempting to maintain relationships, while others are parents and breadwinners.

As midterms inch closer, the pressure has only begun to increase for us. Those extra hours that we once used to catch up on our Netflix shows and to hang out with our friends, now go towards studying. Hovered over an open book or gawking at a bright computer screen, we attempt to prepare ourselves for scantrons and number two pencils.        

Despite the weight of exams, we, as students, need to be sure to take mental health days.

You might be asking: what is a mental health day? Your mental health is fine. Why should you have to take these types of days? It is simple. A mental health day isn’t for those in dire conditions, but instead is a day for someone to detox and de-stress.

And who knows? Maybe multiple days are not needed, but I believe that students need to take at least one day out of their busy week to unwind.     

What is done to relieve stress is entirely up to the person. Usually, when I am feeling troubled, I do a number of tasks.

First, I put my phone on silence and I completely disconnect from social media. This means that for the time being, I do not snap my streaks, I do not check my Instagram feed and I do not stroll through TikTok for the latest trends. It sounds tough, but once my phone is not my first priority anymore, I imagine that I feel exactly how people were before smartphones became a norm – free, attentive.

Next, I like to turn on some soothing music and shake a few drops of Eucalyptus oil into my Aroma Diffuser. If I am feeling rebellious, I might mix Tea Tree oil with Lavender or Lemongrass with Peppermint. Doing this sets the mood of the day. Normally, my mind is racing with worries of school and work, with: “Do I have enough time to finish this assignment before I clock in? When is my next exam? Will failing this one test affect my GPA?” Music and essential oils certainly do the trick for me with its lyrics and calming scents, transporting my bedroom into a stay-at-home SPA resort. 

With this same mindset, I use mental health days to pamper myself. Sometimes, this means taking a long, hot bath or giving myself a deep facial scrub.  Other times, it is just me tending to myself, doing things that I normally rush through because I am pressed for time in an unhurried manner.

When the pampering is over, I lean towards doing things that do not take up a lot of energy. I try not to think about my morning classes and my night shift as much as possible; instead, I gravitate towards tasks that help me cope with my emotions. I pull my notebook into my lap and I journal, documenting everything I am feeling. This helps clear my mind. I no longer have to keep everything bottled up because I wrote down and now, I can let the issue go. Other low-energy things to do include: reading a book, completing a puzzle or simply, napping.  

Honestly, it does not matter what you decide to do on your mental health day. You could spend the day binge watching “Gossip Girl” and eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon. You could spend the day outdoors hiking trails and biking. You could spend the day in your bed, burritoed in covers and fast asleep. 

Again, what you do is completely up to you. 

My only advice to you is to use it wisely. Try not to spend your whole college life wondering whether or not your GPA was high enough to make the dean’s list. Try not to spend it dwelling on a problem that arose at work. 

Breathe. 

Try to do things that will not exhaust your brain, but things that will make you feel at peace and most importantly, make you happy. 

To quote first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.” 

After all, you are a college student with many other milestones ahead of you. Why would you want to spend it stressed?