Take a Mental Health Day to Power Through to Summer
The weeks after Spring Break are tough. Motivation is gone, classes are dragging, and professors doing research have clocked out to apply for grants. It can be hard to maintain motivation. If you find yourself struggling to finish up your homework as you hurtle towards the end of the year, there may be hope for you–just take a day off.
When I say “day off,” I don’t mean the kind of day off that college students have on the weekends, which is really just a day full of work that is structured at odd hours–you get up at noon, sure, but you also spend time working on papers or studying. I mean a day in which you give yourself permission to sit completely still if you feel like it, or to fly a kite or watch a movie or take a nap on the quad without guilt.
Though it sounds counterintuitive to give in and stop doing work when you’re trying to convince yourself to get back into school, it can be really helpful. A day in which you do literally nothing school related and instead catch up on TV or sleep instead of doing homework accomplishes two things: it prevents burnout by giving you some time to recover, and it exhausts your distraction avenues. If you’ve already procrastinated by viewing every back episode of a web TV series from four years ago, you will eventually be forced to do work because you’ll run out of things to catch up on. Eight hours of straight vegging out, particularly if your friends aren’t around because they’re doing their own school-related thing, gets really boring really quickly.
There’s an impression that college students spend a bunch of time goofing off because we don’t usually have 9-5 jobs, but just like other people with oddly-structured work hours (like those who work from home), this can often translate into more time spent doing work, just during “free time” in the afternoon and evening. That’s in addition to clubs and causes that we care about and which look good on grad school resumes. We need time for ourselves, too, and it can be difficult to feel okay about taking it. Particularly in the US, self-care is subversive even though it’s helpful. Without that time, you’ll just be performing at half-speed for the next several weeks, and that’s not any better.
So: go take that nap or watch that TV show or even blow off class on a random Tuesday so long as you can catch up on the notes. Take that time to collect yourself and then, for the next 5-6 weeks, be an academic superstar (or at least hack your finals).