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

During Mental Health Week, I, as the Content Administrator of Kalvium, was curious about the mental health experiences of our students. Kalvium is a pioneering institution in India, offering the country’s first work-integrated program in Computer Science and Engineering, which means that students earn while they learn. Given the demands of the program, their daily schedules can be exhausting as they strive for success. However, we recently received videos showcasing students participating in enjoyable activities organized by their Mentors and Coaches. These activities ranged from simple exercises like holding a plank or balancing on one leg to a relay race-style challenge.

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.

The issue of mental health is receiving significant attention nowadays. However, society tends to promote certain activities such as meditation, physical exercise and reading as the only acceptable means of improving one’s mental well-being. The truth is that taking a mental health break is simply taking a break – and everyone’s preferred method of relaxation may differ. It could be as easy as sleeping for an hour or binge-watching a TV series purely for entertainment purposes. As we transition into adulthood, we are bombarded with the notion that leisure time is a hindrance to success, and that we must constantly work to achieve our goals. The Bollywood film 3 Idiots effectively emphasizes how the education system has become a rat race that causes us to lose our sense of individuality. Activities that provide us with enjoyment are not merely distractions, but rather the breaks we require and are entitled to have.

To be Vulnerable is to Trust!

Mental health is the topic of the day, and during this Mental Health Week, we want to highlight how it impacts our lives, especially in our workplace. Trust is essential in a team, it enables people to work together and achieve top-notch results. Doubts, on the other hand, can hinder progress, and make collaboration feel like an obligation. Constructive criticism, questioning your approach, or being called out for mistakes are all necessary events for a growth mindset. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses opens you up to others’ opinions and helps you thrive. Vulnerability is not a sign of emotional weakness; it’s the ability to accept and work on your shortcomings.

In today’s competitive world, it’s more important than ever to grow as a team player. Kalvium encourages students to collaborate and do better together, rather than pushing each other down to reach the top. Brain Breaks, or Mental Health Checks, are an excellent way to take care of our physical and emotional well-being. They help reduce the stress and anxiety that come with deadlines, fears of failure, and worries about not being smart enough.

Isn’t it easier to step away from your laptop or coursebook when your entire class is taking a break together? Doesn’t it feel more enjoyable when your Professors and Mentors participate in it with you? Remember, a happy student or professional performs better. So, let’s prioritize our mental health, take a break, and grow together as a team.

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?