It's Okay to Take Mental Health Days

It's Okay to Take Mental Health Days

We should treat our mental health more like our physical health

As exam season comes closer and "hell week" begins for many, stress levels especially among students are rising. While some have developed great ways to deal with stress, many do not have good coping mechanisms or simply are not capable of coping with the stress on their own. As stress begins to pile on, this can leave some feeling like it may be impossible to get through. The stress can make it harder to stay focused and to do your best work. How are you supposed to calm yourself down or focus on things like exams when you have to take care of all your other responsibilities?

I used to just believe that you don’t. I used to just push myself to the breaking point where I felt exhausted, completely drained and almost hopeless. During my freshman year, I learned an important lesson: It’s okay to not be okay. As Jessie J sang in her song “Who You Are," it’s okay to not be okay and everyone is not expected to be perfect all of the time. It’s important though to focus on yourself and take care of yourself when you need to. A crucial life skill is recognizing when you are not okay and what you need to do to change that.

With my independence in college, an important skill I had to learn was self-care. Self-care involves caring for yourself in ways that aim to reduce stress and promote your overall well-being. While I initially thought of self-care as a luxury, I have now realized that self-care is a necessity because it aids self-preservation. Although this includes taking care of your physical health, self-care especially includes taking care of your mental health.

If you are not physically healthy, you take a sick day to recuperate. So if you are not mentally well, what do you do? You take a mental health day! Like a sick day, mental health days are aimed at promoting well-being by giving your mind a break and time to recover so that you can get to a better mental state. If you’re like I was, the idea of taking a day or part of a day off to focus on your mental health may seem unrealistic. With everything else going on, how can you afford to take time off? First, recognize that you are allowed to make yourself a priority and to have a day to yourself. I have found that if you are candid, most people are understanding and supportive of you making yourself a priority. You may be surprised by how many people understand that mental health is just as important as your physical health. So don’t feel guilty for taking this time for yourself. Class, work, chores and any other responsibilities or obligations can wait. In fact, a mental health day can be a great opportunity to take care of some of those responsibilities you have piling up without worrying about your usual load of responsibilities.

As part of my mental health day, I have even taken the time to share with you these thoughts and to share why I so deeply believe that mental health days are important. Dr. Bronder (a.k.a. me) highly recommends that if you are feeling too stressed or in need of some self-care to take a mental health day. No one knows you better than you know you, so do what you need to do to get back on your feet.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Popular Right Now

These Are The Best Vaccination Alternatives Already On The Market

Because we know that sometimes, an essential oil is better than science.


Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Potomac Urges Me To Keep Going

A simple story about how and why the Potomac River brings me emotional clarity.


It's easy to take the simple things for granted. We tell ourselves that life is moving too fast to give them another thought. We are always thinking about what comes next. We can't appreciate what's directly in front of us because we are focused on what's in our future. Sometimes you need to snap back to present and just savor the fact that you are alive. That's what the Potomac River does for me.

I took the Potomac River for granted at one point. I rode by the river every day and never gave it a second glance. I was always distracted, never in the present. But that changed one day.

A tangle of thoughts was running rampant inside my head.

I have a lot of self-destructive tendencies. I find it's not that hard to convince yourself that life isn't worth living if nothing is there to put it in perspective.

My mind constantly conjures up different scenarios and follows them to their ultimate conclusion: anguish. I needed something to pull myself out of my mental quagmire.

All I had to do was turn my head and look. And I mean really look. Not a passing glance but rather a gaze of intent. That's when it hit me. It only lasted a minute or so but I made that moment feel like an eternity.

My distractions of the day, no matter how significant they seemed moments ago, faded away. A feeling of evanescence washed over me, almost as if the water itself had cleansed me.

I've developed a routine now. Whenever I get on the bus, I orient myself to get the best view of the river. If I'm going to Foggy Bottom, I'll sit on the right. If I'm going back to the Mount Vernon Campus, I'll sit on the left. I'll try to sit in a seat that allows me to prop my arm against the window, and rest my cheek against my palm.

I've observed the Potomac in its many displays.

I've observed it during a clear day when the sky is devoid of clouds, and the sun radiates a far-reaching glow upon the shimmering ripples below. I can't help but envy the gulls as they glide along the surface.

I've observed it during the rain when I have to wipe the fogged glass to get a better view. I squint through the gloom, watching the rain pummel the surface, and then the river rises along the bank as if in defiance of the harsh storm. As it fades from view, I let my eyes trace the water droplets trickling down the window.

I've observed it during snowfall when the sheets of white obscure my view to the point where I can only make out a faint outline.

I've observed it during twilight when the sky is ablaze with streaks of orange, yellow, and pink as the blue begins to fade to grey.

Last of all, I've observed it during the night, when the moon is swathed in a grey veil. The row of lights running along the edge of the bridge provides a faint gleam to the obsidian water below.

It's hard to tear away my eyes from the river now. It's become a place of solace. The moment it comes into view, I'll pause whatever I'm doing. I turn up the music and let my eyes drift across the waterfront. A smile always creeps across my face. I gain a renewed sense of life.

Even on my runs, I set aside time to take in the river. I'll run across the bridge toward Arlington and then walk back, giving myself time to look out over either side of the bridge. I don't feel in a rush for once. I just let the cool air brush against my face. Sometimes my eyes begin to water. Let's just say it's not always because of the wind.

I chase surreal moments. The kind of moments you can't possibly plan for or predict. Moments where you don't want to be anywhere else. The ones that ground your sense of being. They make life truly exceptional.

Though I crave these moments, they are hard to come by. You can't force them. Their very nature does not allow it. But when I'm near the river, these moments just seem to come naturally.

I remember biking around DC when I caught sight of the Potomac. Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to get a better view. I pulled up along the river bank, startling a lone gull before dismounting. I took a few steps until I reached the edge of the water. The sun shone brilliantly in the center of the horizon.

A beam of light stretched across the water toward me, almost like a pathway to the other side of the river. I felt an urge to walk forward. I let one-foot dangle over the water, lowering it slowly to reach the glittering water below. I debated briefly whether I could walk on water. Though it sounds ridiculous, anything felt possible. Snapping back to reality, I brought my foot back up and scanned the vast blue expanse before me.

Eventually, the wind began to buffet against my left cheek, as if directing me to look right. I turned my head. A couple was walking along the bike path. They paused beneath a tree for a moment and locked eyes. Smiling, the man leaned in and whispered something in the woman's ear. As she giggled, they began to kiss softly.

While I looked on with a smile of my own, I couldn't help but wonder if there was someone else out there in the world willing to share this moment with me.

Related Content

Facebook Comments