College is an incredibly fun and exciting time and there are so many great opportunities that present themselves during this period of your life. Sometimes it may feel like you want to be involved in everything! But there may also come a time where participating in so many great things becomes overwhelming – the excitement begins to fade and you may start to feel like even the “fun” things in your life are a chore. All you want is a break! This can be tough, especially if you feel obligated to continue with any commitments you have made.
You may have the thought, “I can just hang in there for the rest of the semester.” But often times, it is hard to break the cycle of committing too much or being too busy.
How do you know if you’ve taken on more than you should? What are some potential consequences of doing too much?
- You may experience a decline in your physical health
- You may notice a decline in your academic performance
- You might become more irritable
- You are experiencing decreased sleep and feeling tired
- You have a sense of anxiety
- You feel depressed
It is important to make sure that you have a good balance in your life and aren’t doing too much. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you may be doing too much:
- Am I doing so much that I am not doing anything well?
- Am I not enjoying things that I was initially excited about because it now feels stressful with everything I have going on?
- Do I feel like I’m running from one thing to the next with no down time?
- Do I have less time to sleep than I used to?
If you have determined that you may be doing too much but aren’t sure what to let go of, here are some things to consider when deciding what to give up and how to make sure you are balancing your life with your school obligations well:
- Decide what your short-term and long-term goals are. Does the activity help you with your goals?
- What is your motivation for doing the activity? (Is it to please someone else or yourself?)
- How do I feel after the activity?
- How might I feel if I don’t do it? (Regret? Relief? If regret, why?)
- Did you make a firm commitment or do you just feel like you should go?
Here are seven simple ways to keep yourself from doing too much:
- Learn to say no. This can be challenging, but is essential. No one can say yes to everything. Sometimes it can feel like if you don’t do it now, you never will. Remember that most of the time, saying no to something now doesn’t mean you can never do it (or something similar) in the future. Perhaps you will even enjoy it more later on in life when you have more time.
- Remember that things will get done without you. Often times, people who tend to overcommit think that if they don’t do it, no one will. You may be the type that is eager to volunteer first, so it may seem like no one else would do it if you weren’t there. This usually isn’t the case. By saying no, you may even open up an opportunity for someone else who may not be as quick to volunteer.
- Learn to negotiate. Sometimes, there will be things you really want to do, but the timeline is not realistic. Work on talking with those in charge. Let them know you are interested in participating, but it is a busy time for you and see if there is any flexibility on dates and deadlines.
- Remember that what you do doesn’t define you. This may be something you have heard before, but in our achievement-oriented culture it can be easy to forget. When we buy into this mentality, we often try to do more to make ourselves feel good about who we are. Sadly, it can have the opposite effect when we do too much and feel like we aren’t doing any of it as well as we could.
- Ask questions. Before you decide to commit to something, learn more about what the experience will be like. First, it is important to not only think about the time commitment involved and how it will affect your schedule. Then, you will also want to look at how the experience will impact you. Sometimes we sign up for things that turn out to be very different than we expected.
- Set limits in advance. Decide what is not negotiable to you. While this will vary for everyone, it is important to think about your top priorities. Though it can be problematic to have too many non-negotiable limits as this would prevent you from being able to do much of anything, people who tend to overcommit may not have any in place. For example, you may decide that it is important to you to be able to make time for 3 daily meals, exercise 4 times a week, and other personal commitments (e.g. time with friends twice a week, attending church, etc.). If this is decided in advance and someone wants you to volunteer between basketball practice and an evening study group, if this is the only time you have for dinner, say no.
- Take time to reflect regularly. Think about how you have been feeling physically and emotionally. Was this week more stressful or busy for you? If so, why? Will this likely continue or were there extra one-time commitments involved? Think about your current schedule. Can you make any changes to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed? Sometimes even moving some activities from an extra busy day to a day with more free time can lower your stress-level, make your schedule feel more manageable, and make you feel more balanced.
We know that there are going to be many things that come up throughout the course of your college and academic career that are going to cause you to have to make choices about how to spend your time. If you are able to reflect on some of these questions and use some of these tips to assess which activities are the most beneficial to your overall mental and physical health, it may help you create some balance when trying to decide which of the next fun activities to add to your plate!
For more information on balancing all of the competing demands of college-life or to talk to someone or reach out to Student Wellness (619) 260-4618.