Death by Suffocation

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Picture this: It is the middle of the week and you have just finished your first mid-term exam. The exam itself was not too hard and you are feeling pretty good about the outcome. You might even be feeling accomplished with the work that you did.

Suddenly, your friend reminds you that you have an upcoming exam at the end of the week that you haven’t started studying for. And like a tsunami wave, the rest of your responsibilities hit you. You realize that you have meetings and events planned for every day for the next two weeks that you cannot afford to miss and your nights are filled with studying and catching up on your classes.

Moreover, you are taking the maximum number of credits and you cannot afford to drop or fail any of your classes. You are juggling so many responsibilities and commitments and you can feel the panic creeping up on you like a noose, making it difficult for you to breathe. So, you start to backtrack, and you ask yourself: “When did I agree to any of these commitments?”

Making commitments is always a slippery slope that most of us end up falling on. The danger usually starts early in the semester when you find yourself agreeing to one or two responsibilities. For example, you saw that the cheer team was looking for new members, so you tried out and made the team; you have a part time job on campus and you’re also on the Executive board of a club.

In those first few weeks, you probably found an effective enough method of handling those responsibilities in addition to all your classes and you felt great. “Well, since this is working out so well”, you said to yourself, “I’m pretty sure I can take on more work.” You do exactly that and you find yourself taking on more than you bargained for especially with the mid-term exams looming over you like a storm cloud.

Now you find that all this work is doing its absolute best to make your life a living hell. So, you do what any sane person would do and try to drop some of your commitments to lighten your workload. If you are lucky, you can lighten your load and hopefully learn from the experience. If you cannot or do not want to drop any of your responsibilities, you must now figure out how to manage your responsibilities, so they don’t end up killing you.

For the sake of damage control, you ask yourself what are the effects of having a huge workload. Well, a huge workload could easily raise your stress levels which could lead to sleep deprivation, loss of appetite and maybe even weight loss, all of which could lead to serious illnesses. Elevated stress levels could also lead to mental health issues such as depression.

Apart from having an impact on your physical and mental well-being, taking on more than you can handle could also affect your social interactions and your academic performance. On the other hand, taking on a huge workload is also an opportunity for you to grow and really test your limits.

It is a great way to develop excellent multitasking and planning skills. Usually the effects of taking on a huge workload varies from person to person and because of this, it is unfair to generalize it as an entirely bad thing. However, the prudent thing to do would be to recognize when you are taking on too many responsibilities.

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