Have you ever woken up one morning and realized there was just no way your body was going to let you do anything that day? A lot of people have written about the concept of taking a day off to let your body relax, but I think few realize how important it actually is to your physical and mental health.
Human beings are not designed to live without rest. This becomes blatantly obvious when referring to sleep, as the human body can only go about 10 or 11 days without sleep before it shuts down. However, there is a difference between sleep and rest.
Recently, I was working three jobs and going to college full time. There was a period of about two and a half weeks where I did not get a single day off work, and actually worked all three jobs on the same day one time. Like a lot of people, I get sick when I’m stressed or don’t sleep enough. I told myself that I would make sure I was getting enough sleep at night, and that would be the way to make sure this working marathon didn’t leave me unable to get out of bed for three days. (I also took a multivitamin every day, which may have helped.) I didn’t get sick, but I was exhausted. I quickly figured out that even though I was sleeping enough, I was still doing too much for my body to handle.
I started to get panicky after a while. I never had a full-blown panic attack, but I came pretty close. I started worrying that I wasn’t going to be able to get everything done, and this really wore on me. I was exhausted and stressed, and I’m still very surprised I didn’t get sick.
Now, I’m back to only working two jobs, one of which I haven’t been scheduled for the last couple of weeks, and I’m on Spring Break. This week of sleeping late and setting my own schedule except for a few hours at work every afternoon has been wonderful. It has given me some much-needed time of both sleep and rest. The sheer knowledge that I have all morning to relax and do whatever I want has been perfect. I actually pity all the college students who have been stressed out and then went away for spring break – you have no idea what you’re missing.
I haven’t been bored: I have found new things to do, new ways to use my time. I haven’t been stressed. I’ve been more relaxed than I have in a long time.
That’s what I really want my readers to consider. Yes, you sleep every night, but if you are in class or at work every day, are you really resting? Earlier, I mentioned that sleep and rest are necessary to your physical and mental health. I’d like to hypothesize that sleep is necessary to your physical health – you will die without it; and rest is necessary to your mental health. Without enough rest, I think many people will go crazy with worry and stress. It’s hard to deal with daily life if you don’t take the time to absorb it all.
Of course, what are you supposed to do if you have to be in class or at work 7 days a week? Maybe it’s time to consider taking a day off. Do your classes count attendance? Even if they do, I’m sure you can afford to miss just one day. Can you get the notes from someone else? Does your job offer you sick days? How about the time-tested method – just sound sick when you call in.
Think about it this way: isn’t it better to call in sick one day this week than to actually get sick and be forced to miss three days next week, or the week after? It also helps your productivity to be well-rested and relaxed.
Please note that I am not advocating ditching class or work for no good reason. Your health, both physical and mental, is a very good reason. Generally, this kind of thing only becomes necessary once a semester. If you find yourself blowing off classes more often than that, maybe you should consider that waking up every morning with a hangover is really the problem, not just exhaustion.