College Stress: Are You Overworking Yourself?

Richmond, Virginia
United States

College can be a time filled with trials and tribulations, most of which surround school stress, extra-curriculars and working. But far too many students find themselves overworked to the point of exhaustion, all to just wake up the next day and start their busy schedule all over again.

As a current executive board member of three organizations, a performer, part-time worker and full-time student, I can attest to the pressures set up by society to get resume fillers. Times have changed, and many students are aware that they need to set themselves apart in order to land that “dream job.”

But just how many clubs and organizations are enough? How many internships reach the magic number that guarantees an interview? And how does juggling all of the activities mentioned affect one’s health? A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 85 percent of “college students reported that they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point in the past year.”

Repeated feelings of overwhelming thoughts can negatively impact one’s ability to perform on a day to day basis. When there are a million things on your to-do list, there are a million things on your mind. The mind of a student can be filled with reminders, homework, schedules, etc., and it can lead to high levels of stress.

Generally, not being able to focus is something that’s common among the age group currently attending college. However, when students are having thoughts race through their mind at quicker rates than they can handle, the tension can strain anyone’s ability to function properly in school or outside activities. A common theme seen among most busy individuals is that they don’t take the time to efficiently reset, or power down their thoughts. In order to maintain a healthy balance and busy schedule, many professionals are starting to suggest a time in which stressed individuals take time to “shut down,” and separate themselves from the chaos around them.

According to Jessica Stillman of, “There is wisdom that can't be accessed by conscious control. To get at it, paradoxically, you have to stop trying so hard.” Essentially, it is okay to not have activities lined up back-to-back and to take time to yourself to relax.

Although often overlooked, there are warning signs of stress overload, which according to the American Psychological Association, include: fatigue, loss of appetite, jitters, irritability, headaches and neck/shoulder pain to name a few. It is important to listen to one’s body, and know when to stop looking for the next thing to do or a project to tackle. When you become aware of how you react to high levels of stress, it will be easy to foresee and address the signs in the next stressful situation.

As college students, it is easy to fall into the same cycles of work, school and clubs, but be sure not to lose yourself and your mental health in while doing so. Take moments to check in with yourself, and address any major stresses that could be negatively affecting you.