Reading week advice: Relax

Reading, working, travelling, snoring. However you choose to spend your study week, try to take a break from the daily grind long enough to practice some self-care.

Next week is Ryerson’s second study week of the 2016-2017 year for most students, a luxury that not all universities across Ontario enjoy. Though most do have breaks in their winter semesters, schools like University of Toronto and Guelph University still don’t have a week-long fall break.

These breaks allow students to do whatever it is they need to do to get through the semester, whether that be catching up on their load of readings, picking up some shifts for money or just escaping some responsibilities for a little while. It’s the same reason that full-time employers are legally responsible to grant employees two weeks of vacation a year. The chance to recharge does wonders for mental well-being and productivity in the long run.  

The pressure for universities to take responsibility for their students’ mental health has increased over the years. Ryerson’s own wait times for mental health support has been criticized, and as a result, the university has been pushing the Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CDSC) to try and provide same-day consultations for its students. The CDSC received an increase in funding from the 2016-2017 budget, which allowed them to cut down wait times and offer group therapy sessions.

Guelph University is feeling the same pressure, especially since four of their students have committed suicide since September 2016. The most recent was Riley Lynch, a Guelph physics student who reportedly loved the outdoors and enjoyed drawing. The university is now working with the Canadian Mental Health Association to address student mental health for both short and long-term solutions.

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the break either; faculty can use the time to do whatever it is they need to do, whether that be grading, research or spending time with family.

Even reading weeks aren’t necessarily the answer, since most students and faculty have felt inundated with assignments and midterms both before and after reading week. Who’s able to fully relax or feel caught up when there’s looming deadlines on the other side of the tunnel?

University students are stigmatized for being a bunch of tired, broke, hungry and partying misfits. They’re expected to work harder than everyone else, in some cases for free, and that’s okay because they’re there for the experience and their young so they can handle it. But that’s not the case, they’re humans who need food, sleep and support just like everyone else. So whatever your plans may be for next week, do yourself a favour and schedule some downtime.

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