Today is Wednesday, Sept. 29, and I am not going to be attending any of my classes. Why, you might ask? During the pandemic I learned that attending lectures or focusing on coursework requires extra mental and social energy, which one may not have to expend on a rough day. This realization has taught me that taking a mental health day is still just as valid even if you are paying for your education. I took mental health days regularly in high school. In college, however, I’ve found it really hard to pause to take a break. Attending college is truly an expensive commitment: one I wanted to milk every drop of experience possible from.
After not even a year of taking classes on my college campus, I was sent home due to the pandemic. I converted from walking to classes everyday to using my computer to watch lectures from the comfort of my childhood bedroom. Now, after over a year of remote learning, my campus has finally returned to a regular, classroom learning style (although of course we use masks, vaccinate and socially distance). This transition back to what I considered the “norm” has been challenging to say the least.
Although I never really considered myself an advocate for remote learning, I have realized with the departure from it that in-person learning comes with its own separate set of challenges. I think that remote learning really bridges the gap needed to make a college education more accessible to people that might struggle to learn in the regular classroom environment. This includes the financially insecure who must work during regular college hours, individuals with disabilities and those affected with issues concerning mental health.
In the past, I would have felt so anxious and ashamed of taking a day off of attending any commitments for the day. I think it is key to remember that just because you may not have accomplished anything stereotypically productive, you have still accomplished something when correcting this cognitive distortion. For example, throughout my day today, I caught up on sleep, practiced some good personal hygiene (showering, doing skin care, moisturizing, etc.), took a walk for my mental and physical well-being, went grocery shopping and put my finances and budget in order. Collectively, these things are all necessities to my well-being and success in the world, and allowing myself to remind myself these tasks are just as important as attending class or studying is beneficial for my mental health. Ending the day feeling well-rested, organized and caught up on my odds-and-ends tasks, I want to remind you, reader, no matter who you are – rest is important. It is essential to our functionality that we provide ourselves with needed days of nourishment and relaxation. Take the day. It’s still okay to stay at home.