Skipping school can be a form of self-care

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth.

Why having balance and making time for yourself is important during the school semester

With the winter semester coming to a close, it seems more and more students are behind on their work. That isn’t to say they aren’t working as hard as they did at the beginning of the term, or even in the fall. As the low temperatures and cloudy skies persist, however, I think it’s easier to get tired.

The mix of rain, snow and wind has been exhausting, along with a constant yo-yoing between above and below zero degrees Celsius. This type of weather increases people’s chances of getting sick, and their ever-growing workload can prevent students from making a quick and full recovery. According to a 2014 study from Harvard Medical School, the cold weather forces people to stay indoors in close quarters, causing colds to spread. For students who just emerged from midterms and are already staring down the barrel of finals, an impaired immune system and low energy levels are the last thing they need right now.

Additionally, some students experience seasonal affective disorder. According to CBC News, 35 per cent of Canadians get the “winter blues,” while another 10 to 15 per cent are affected by a mild form of seasonal depression. The days are cold, dark and short, which can have a depressing impact on our lives and our bodies. I know it does for me.

Personally, I feel like my body has been shutting down since January. I almost always finish my school day with a massive headache, and I can’t function again until I lay down and rest. But my program and courses don’t always allow for restful days. As a journalism student, even on the days when I don’t have class, my projects keep me fairly busy, and I have to run around town to complete them. Even though I rested during reading week, it barely felt like an actual break. I still had many projects to complete and exams to prepare for. I slept in, but it didn’t feel like I was catching up on all the sleep I needed.

During high school, I never skipped classes, though I don’t pass any judgment on those who did and do. This semester, however, reading the PowerPoints my professor sends to the class is enough to understand my elective and still get reasonable grades. That is why I have decided to skip that class every week. My elective is on Mondays at 8:45 a.m., and since I don’t live close to campus, I would have to wake up very early to get there on time. I would often end up falling asleep in class anyway, which is why I decided it would be better for my mental and physical health to sleep in on Mondays and get some work done from home instead.

I genuinely don’t believe skipping class is a form of laziness. Though some people skip class to take a break and have fun, most of us need to catch up on sleep and homework. I now take the two hours and 45 minutes I spent in that class getting most of my projects completed—and it’s such a relief! Those extra few hours allow me to rest during the weekend, do more work during the week and still take care of myself. I know some people who even use skipped class time to go to the gym. Balance is incredibly important—it’s necessary to make time for all forms of self-care, even if that means occasionally not going to class.

I have been less stressed out since I began skipping my elective, and I feel more rested and prepared for the rest of my courses. Even though finals are quickly creeping up on us, self-care is no joke and shouldn’t be neglected. Regardless of how you cope with cold weather, a heavy workload and seemingly never-ending exams, you need to take care of yourself. So rest-up, relax and focus on the upcoming summer break we all deserve.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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