We’re now in the season of reading week, or what you might remember as being called Spring Break.
For some, that likely brings up the picture of a bunch of students getting ready to head down south to party like there’s no tomorrow. But the truth is, reading week holds so much more relevance than that! There’s a reason why this break has been setup to support students in the month of February.
For the month of February, at Healthoholics, we’ve been discussing the importance of caring for your mental health.
With KW’s reputable abundance of universities and colleges, including University of Waterloo, Laurier University, and Conestoga College — it’s safe to say that the Kitchener-Waterloo community is known for its student culture.
And for many, the studying youth included, we often underestimate the pressures and responsibilities that come up as a student.
Since our community is largely built up of students, we wanted to focus solely on students, and the importance of prioritizing their mental health and well-being during the month of February.
Why caring for mental health is so important
Let’s face it, up until recently has society hasn’t been that open to discussing mental health as a whole. And while the stigma around mental health is improving, the truth is that most adults still don’t handle stress well.
There are so many pressures that are put on us in the western world, (like working long and draining work weeks, caring for your children, all while still trying to make time for yourself)! Because of this, most parents aren’t equipped to to teach their children proper stress coping mechanisms. Which leads to children and young adults who lack much needed skills!
This is one reason it’s great to have schools that support students in learning about the importance of taking a mental break NOW, before they make their transition into the working world and full-fledged adulthood!
Don’t overlook the fact that students do need a break
Just because student’s aren’t yet working in the “real world”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t get stressed out. After having a conversation with my sister, who is currently in her first year at Laurier University, I quickly realized that a lot of the pressures and stress that she’s feeling is also what I experienced as a student.
We all know what it’s like to make a massive life shift, like moving or starting a new job — and if a student wants to study outside of their hometown, they are then not only taking on the stress that comes from fast approaching deadlines, but also from shaking up their entire living condition as well. Some students enter new towns or cities, hardly knowing anyone at all. They don’t have their typical support systems to lean on, and they often aren’t prepared for this drastic transition.
With little to no support, a heavy workload, and heavy expectations — it’s no wonder they are left feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and down-right stressed out.
And even though stress comes with the territory of being a student, reading week can really help them to take an active role in combating the effects that comes from mental exhaustion.
Taking time to unwind
So what happens during reading week exactly?
This will likely look different for every individual student… but taking the time OFF to disconnect from studies should be encouraged.
Don’t get me wrong, doing schoolwork over the break is a good idea, but it is equally important that students also use this time to unwind, catch their breath, and get re-inspired.
Whether that’s doing some pleasure reading, (as opposed to a text book), grabbing dinner with their friends, visiting family back home, sleeping in, taking a vacation to a warm place, or hanging out in their pj’s all day… students should be encouraged to do just that! Whatever makes them feel happy, and rested… that’s what’s best for them in that moment.
Like all the rest of us, students are not machines! Just because they can push their limits, doesn’t mean that they should. And in order for us to see a change, we all have to come together to encourage our culture to take breaks, and rest more often.
Do you think it’s important for students to get a mental break during reading week? How do you think encouraging this break will change our work-life culture? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!