I am a firm believer in mental health days.

Occasionally, I’m just too tired to get out of bed days, too, but let’s pretend I’m not that lazy.

Seriously, though, sometimes skipping a class can be the best thing. Stressful weeks can creep up so easily here; I’ll often turn the page of my planner and find a million highlighted items waiting for me. Fortunately, last week I gave myself a sneak preview, saving myself the shock of my calendar items. This week, February 23-27, didn’t look so great. The pink pen that I use to mollify particularly scary items felt threatening, not optimistic. I knew that I was in serious need of a mental health day.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 2.11.35 PMAnd luckily, I was able to take my mental health day on a weekend getaway with my mom. Usually when I skip class, I find myself lying in bed with a cup of tea and Netflix. Practically paradise, but still not as good as a mini vacation.

A few months ago, we made plans to go skiing—one of our favorite shared hobbies—at a resort in western Maryland. I’d been counting down the days until ski weekend, and fortunately, it fell on the weekend right before my crazy week. Perfect: a few days of serenity before the calamity.

We departed after my last class on Friday, skis and poles stowed in the back, mediocre pop hits cranking in the front. We settled in at the hotel, crashed at an embarrassingly early time, and hit the slopes bright and early the next morning.

As I navigated down the mountain, snow hitting my goggles in icy starbursts, I wasn’t thinking about my three papers that I would have to start on Monday. I wasn’t thinking of my friends, fingers trembling from caffeine, trying to survive midterms week. I wasn’t even thinking of my warm bed in my dorm room, my typical mental health hangout spot.Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 2.10.18 PM

I was worried about how tight my boot’s buckles were, not my impending Intro to Business exam. I was worried about whether the hot tub would be available when we returned to the lodge, not the Alpha Phi philanthropy event I’m helping to plan. I was worried about the windburn on my cheeks, not my academic deadlines.

Stepping away from campus for a couple days and doing something I love spoiled me. I’m happy, so happy, at Hopkins, but there’s just nothing quite like a weekend getaway with Mom. When I returned to the Homewood campus that Monday morning, I felt recharged, refreshed. I felt like the giant, white mountain invigorated me. My papers seemed like nothing compared to the tumble I took on a way-too-difficult slope.

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Sometimes it’s easy to get caught within the my life is so stressful bubble of college. When everyone around you is running around with their heads on fire, it’s hard not to feel like you need to ignite your hair, too. Skiing put things into perspective. Just like that seemingly steep hill isn’t actually that hard, that seemingly exhausting paper isn’t that bad.

Arms sore from pushing across flatlands, shins bruised from clumsily walking in ski boots, I sat, relaxed, at my desk. I prepped my Intro to Business cheat sheet, my mind clear. Like taking the first start down a hill, I put my pen to the paper, and started.

Full disclosure: I haven’t started my papers yet. But that’s only because I have beautiful mountain photos distracting me.