Many students consider an injury or illness, like the flu or a broken arm, to be a suitable reason to stay away from classes and stay in bed. But have you ever taken a day off when you knew your mental health wasn’t at its best?

Most of us find ignoring our mental health easier than neglecting a physical injury and it can seem more difficult than ever to put yourself before your studies.

The stigma surrounding mental health has decreased significantly as our public conversations about this important subject have evolved and matured with better education, research and socialisation. In recent years, there’s been a change in the way mental health is viewed, and more attention is shifting to the importance of self-care and mental wellbeing practices. Understanding mental ill-health and seeking therapy or other treatments is becoming normalized thanks to these discussions within society and pop culture.

Many students operate with a certain level of stress that provides enough adrenaline to complete assignments and tests, but it’s important to recognize when you’re overstretching yourself. Your mind and body will frequently give signs that you’re being pushed to the limit – so know yourself, know your signs and know when to take a well-earned day off.

Often a continual, repetitive routine can put people in a mental rut. In such a situation, a mental health day can be a great option to break out of it and re-ignite your creativity.

Absorb yourself in an activity that can help your mind refresh and reset such as –

  • Sleep in – Everyone could do with a few more hours of snoozing! Let yourself switch off and take the day to reset your body clock.
  • Start a new hobby – Have a break from your class assignments and try out some new interests. Whether it’s gardening, knitting, painting or writing that story that’s been stuck in your head for a while, your brain will thank you for the change of pace.
  • Exercise – When you are studying or cramming for exams, it can be hard to get regular physical activity. Use your day off to find your Zen with yoga, meditate or go for a walk or jog around the block.
  • Binge watch a TV series or read a book – Is there a TV series or book that you’ve been meaning to catch up with? Take the day to binge watch to your heart’s content.

Studies show that taking even a short break between periods of work can improve your overall productivity, and more importantly, research has shown breaks lead to a boost in creativity and an improved mental state of being beyond leading you to an optimal working rhythm. And this is a benefit we could all stand to gain.

Always remember to find the best method that works for you! There is no right and wrong way to take care of yourself.