Prioritizing Self Care – Should You Skip Lectures at University?

I’m going to level with my readers here – as I write this, I’ve been to one lecture today, got through it by spending two hours working on my Instagram engagement, and am currently sat with my arm elbow deep in a Pringles tin waiting for my boyfriend to get home so we can make dinner. I skipped my first lecture today (it was optional to be fair – only about 15 people even bothered to go) and came up with the idea for this post. I’ve neglected the student life part of this blog for a few weeks now because I’ve been so bogged down with work. And today, finally free of the deadline storms of continuous assessment modules and group work, I decided to switch off the alarm and choose sleep over my class.

In my first year, I remember going on Facebook to see a girl I had friended from my university’s Freshers group proudly announcing she hadn’t gone to her lectures because it was raining. I was disgusted, in the only way a fresher that needs some help in the maturity department can be. How on Earth could she justify being at university if she couldn’t bring herself to go to class? There were likely hundreds of students that would’ve done anything for her place, and she was skipping lectures because it was raining?! Of course, 3 years later and I needed to go on Pinterest a few days ago to motivate myself, with a few basic quotes, to go to my classes because it was raining. Ironic, really.

Brunette girl in pink jacket and black jeans, leaning against a grey stone wall

Photo Credit: Shannon Crighton

So I suppose what I want to discuss is when can you really justify skipping lectures? I’m not defending myself not going because it’s cold and I want more sleep – that’s just me being selfish! But it definitely happens to everyone. I can’t justify it. But I can justify not going to a lecture when, in all honesty, you need to put yourself first.

Throughout my first year and a fair portion of second year, my mental health slipped. I had severe anxiety, and around that point had depressive symptoms and at the lowest point had suicidal thoughts. The people I reached to for help initially pushed me so far back I couldn’t bring myself to think about speaking to anyone that might actually want to help. I’m not talking a little bit of stress or a lack of motivation. I’m talking “What’s the point of getting out of bed? No one wants me at that lecture anyway”. I skipped a lot of lectures in that time. And I realise now that that was okay. I had enough motivation to drag myself to anything that was compulsory and I still passed my exams with flying colours, even if having to learn the material right before the exam wasn’t ideal. But rather exam based stress, than going to lectures and getting upset because my state of mind wasn’t in the right place. In the end, spending some time locked in my room was integral to getting through it. On days when leaving my bed to do something as simple as taking a shower felt like a mountain climb, I can excuse not going to lectures.

It doesn’t have to simply extend to mental health days, either. This morning’s lecture was skipped because I’d been up until 1am doing group work and, following 4 weeks of constant assessments, I was exhausted. My mental capacity was pretty low. I knew the lecture today wouldn’t be important. So I slept until 11 and went to my last class of the day. It may sound lazy, but I needed it.

I also think there’s no point going to a lecture that just won’t help you. If you’re not being tested on it, it doesn’t interest you, and you know you’ll spend the whole thing on your phone scrolling through Instagram or buying shoes (what no I’ve, err, never done that… *shifty eyes*), should you really bother? If you can get more information out of self research, or better spend that time doing another piece of work that you really want to put the effort in for, then why waste your time going to the class? All three of those parameters need to fit mind you. No point skipping it insisting it’s boring if it comes up in an exam. But do you get my point here?

Your mental state is as important as your physical state. You wouldn’t go to a lecture if you had the flu and getting out of bed was a physical challenge, so why go if getting out of bed is a mental challenge?

Photo Credit: Shannon Crighton

That said, I wouldn’t justify skipping a lecture for the following reasons I have seen people use: “9am is too early”; “it’s cold outside”; “I just couldn’t be bothered”; “I hadn’t been to any other classes today so what was the point of just going to that one”; “I spoke to Alan from the year above and he said that this didn’t come up in the exam, so I’m gonna assume it won’t this year”; “I don’t have any friends in that class and don’t want to be seen sat alone”; and “I already know the material they’re going to cover in this class so I don’t need to go”. These are excuses. You can’t use them to justify not going (says the massive hypocrite that has definitely used more than one of these excuses… again, *shifty eyes*).

So yes, it’s okay to take a day off if your mental state just isn’t it’s usual, chirpy self. Just don’t make a habit of making excuses and not going to class because you simply can’t be bothered. You’re already going to come out of university in debt. Don’t force yourself to come out of it with your mental health in peril! Self care should always be on your mind.

Do you think it’s acceptable to skip lectures? Let me know in the comments!


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