How many times have you felt guilty about indulging in a short episode of ‘Friends’ or ‘The Office’ as a mental health break? Or what about the times when having a 30-minute power nap felt like a questionable choice, especially when there was a paper due in the next few hours? Way too many times for us! We always want to finish our daily assignments and tasks before taking a break. College, coursework, deadlines, social interaction, and building a hobby drain our energy throughout the day. As a result, our mental health takes the backseat.

Our parents and professors look down on us when we start a game of FIFA to relax our minds. To go out on a 10-minute stroll before the next class begins often seems like a waste of time. Our brains are expected to be constantly stimulated within and outside the walls of a classroom. Our brains are overworked and overloaded with the excess information fed to us constantly. What do we do to get a break? Back in school, we had the concept of “recess” built into our schedules. However, when we enter college or the workplace, the maximum we get is a quick lunch break. And, the cherry on top, if not mandated, we are more than often working or studying through these lunch breaks too!

Mental Health Check at Kalvium

It’s Mental Health Week and as the Content Administrator of Kalvium, I wondered what the students are experiencing. Kalvium delivers India’s 1st work-integrated program in Computer Science and Engineering. Students earn as they learn. So, their daily schedules are inevitably tiring at times. It’s the hustle to greatness.  But, just the other day, we received videos of students participating in innocent fun through activities organised by their Mentors and Coaches. The activities were as simple as holding a plank or balancing your body weight on one leg! Some videos appeared to be that of a relay race of sorts as well. 

Oh, the sheer joy of being able to participate in silly games with friends and colleagues and being able to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged! The beauty of taking the leap of faith, in yourself and the strangers around you, and building a team out of individuals is unmatched indeed.

Mental Health is a greatly stressed topic today. However, activities of mental health “approved” by society are usually meditation, physical exercise, reading, and others. Isn’t a mental health break just a break? However, our bodies and minds may relax in different ways for all of us. It can be as simple as sleeping for an hour or binge-watching a show just for entertainment. Over the years of graduating into adulthood, we are constantly told how leisure is the enemy. We have to hustle every minute to be successful. The Bollywood Film 3 Idiots put the point across clearly of how the education system is a rat race, and as a result, we tend to lose our individuality in this race. Fun activities are not just a pointless distraction, they are the break we need and deserve!

To be Vulnerable is to Trust!

When there’s trust in a team, people collaborate to deliver high-quality results. When there’s space for doubt, we feel obligated to coordinate at most. At a workplace, being open to constructive criticism as feedback, being questioned on your approach, or making a mistake and being called out on it are all important events leading up to a growth mindset. When you are aware of your strengths and shortcomings, you are more open to others’ opinions and are bound to succeed and thrive better. Vulnerability is not about being emotionally weak, instead, it is about being able to accept your weaknesses and work on them.

You grow as a team only when you can keep aside your insecurities and ask for help. In today’s competitive space of learning and performing, it is extremely important, more than ever before, to grow as a team player. Kalvium imparts the vision of students collaborating to do better instead of pushing each other down to reach the top. 

Isn’t it easier to step away from the laptop or the coursebook when the entire class does it together? Isn’t it more enjoyable when your Professors and Mentors encourage you to do so and participate in it with you? A happy student or professional performs better in today’s competitive world. The anxiety and stress of deadlines, fears of failure, and worries of not being smart enough are challenges we all face. The Mental Health Checks, or Brain Breaks if you may call them, help maintain our physical and emotional well-being.

Mental Health Burnout and Teamwork

Student burnout, especially amongst engineers, is a common topic of conversation. The glory of being an Engineer overshadows the stress students more than often suffer through. “4 years child and your life and career will be successfully established. You’ll never have to worry for a day! Trust us.” How many times have you heard someone say that to you or someone around you? All this talk is followed by the harsh reality of student suicides, study burnout, and incidents of bullying, amongst other factors. Various literature, research studies, and the entertainment sector incorporating documentaries and films bring to the common man the reality of student struggle. In the rat race to success, we as humans forget and more than often neglect the importance of a 5-minute break. 

A break for you and me can not be the same. You may prefer to meditate, while I may prefer to go on a run. It doesn’t matter how we rest our brains and body, just that we do. Let’s not feel guilty about sleeping for 10 more minutes. We must stop overthinking the “just one more episode!” Let’s support our friends, colleagues, and even our professors and mentors to take a break. Let’s find an activity today that works for everyone. Especially as college students and soon-to-be working professionals, it’s best to grow as team players. Let’s together manifest and build a healthy growth environment.

Let me conclude my train of thought by briefly talking about the pandemic. Most of us were confined to our rooms and spent months without human contact. Digitally connected, however, far away when it came to emotional human support. Let’s be a little kind to ourselves today. Let’s pamper ourselves. If we don’t, who will?