Overwhelmed schedule = underwhelmed soul

Gianna Caravetta | Opinion Editor | The USD Vista | @giannacara


Overwhelmed-ScheduleThere is a bug that has been going all around the University of San Diego. It’s not the flu, and it’s not a cold. It’s the metaphorical and relentless stress bug.

For quite some time now, it seems as if USD students have been in an inescapable slinky, one in which stress is constant and continuous.

If we think back to about seven weeks ago, we were just preparing for the new semester, getting ready to reconnect with friends, and hoping to breeze through classes. We dreamt of doing all of that with a healthy balance of a social life, extracurriculars, and time for some self-care. Of course, this was the dream.

These lofty dreams we had now seem to be a part of an unattainable goal with no end in sight. In the midst of a slew of tests, papers, and projects, the struggle to be both productive and stable can seem overwhelming. Yet being overwhelmed with school, work, extracurriculars, and leisure means that we have less time to take care of ourselves, the bearer of so much burden.

Author Lysa Terkeurst once explained that an overwhelmed schedule most often times is coupled with an underwhelmed soul. This is the irony of having so many things to do and yet no time to be.

We aren’t human doings, we are human beings. Human beings that are fallible, in desperate need of love and attention, and constantly searching for balance.

At the end of the day, we need to take care of ourselves and of our souls. Destressing is only one slight aspect of this balancing act of an overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul. We have to be more grounded in the belief that living a healthy life necessitates a generous balance full of our emotional, spiritual, and physical healths. Each health is needed, and each health contributes to your overall holistic well-being.

Here are some practical tools for balancing your schedule and taking care of your soul:

  1. Know when to say no.

It sounds like crazy talk to hear this in the context of our world that seems to demand we always come from a place of yes. The true testament of a healthy person is someone who can say no amidst an endless list of demands. When we know the extent of our capabilities as human beings, we give ourselves the strength to make moral, rational, and imperative decisions.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you must develop a no-mentality and seek solitude for the rest of your life. This merely means we have to know when we simply cannot give our fullest effort or passion to a situation or a person. When the laundry list of commitments we have is already overwhelming, we have to learn to say no.

Dr. Amy Alfred is a licensed psychologist with over 25 years of experience in her field. To those struggling with this sentiment, Alfred reminds us that saying no is a complete sentence. She explained that we must be mindful that saying yes does not and should not mean saying no to yourself.

Saying no to demands takes trial and error. It must come from a place of compassion and kindness to serve each other as the imperfect human beings, not human doings, that we all are. When we can understand that, we can give a yes wholeheartedly and without any strings attached.

  1. Make a list of non-negotiables.

This list will guide how you spend the hours of your day. A non-negotiable is something that is not open to discussion, anything in this context from doing your homework to going to church to getting yourself to the gym. Write down a list of several aspects of your day-to-day life that you are unwilling to give up, things that you are committed to no matter what.

Mark Sisson, a fitness coach and former Ironman competitor, explained that if we consider our day-to-day practices as flexible and up for debate, then they are all disposable. Sisson elaborated that creating a list of non-negotiables forces us to fulfill these tasks daily without constantly giving excuses. For Sisson, this is in the context of working out, but non-negotiable practices are all-inclusive.

The key here is to write it down. Simply rattling off certain non-negotiables in your head doesn’t quite have the same effect. When you write it down, you have a list to go back to, to keep yourself accountable and efficient. Go back when you have a decision to make, and your list will surely guide your plans.


  1. Spend time reflecting.


In an article published in Psychology Today recently, psychologist Allen R. McConnell explained that reflection is absolutely quintessential for self-improvement. McConnell stated that spending time reflecting, what he calls self-focus, is not a narcissistic practice but rather a means of effecting a positive self-reaction.


It seems as if many college students can’t stand the idea of being alone for fear of being lonely. I’ll be the first one to tell you that self-care is not only sufficient for living a stable and productive life: it is necessary. Self-care doesn’t discriminate against introverts and extroverts; everyone concerned for their emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being needs time for introspection.


Christina Belloso, junior and blogger at the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion, advocates meditation and practicing mindfulness.


“It’s such a rare thing these days for our generation to stop and be present in the many tasks we busy ourselves with,” Belloso said. “I cannot describe how much meditation has changed me emotionally and physically; the benefits are endless. It forces you to sit down, reflect on your bottled emotions and thoughts, and be mindful in the space you’re in. It’s a practice that slowly needs to work its way into our hectic lives.”


When you spend time individually reflecting, you open yourself to being able to care for your soul. Reflecting can look different to many different people, from personal prayer to journaling to meditation to sitting in silence. In doing so, you can start to understand more holistically who your most authentic self is, what you value most, and what your purpose is.


These tools, although not comprehensive, can give you the first few steps to take amidst the craziness of life.


Of course, as college students with a considerable list of responsibilities, chaotic schedules are inevitable. Sometimes, we actually have to schedule time to eat, to take care of ourselves, or simply to breathe. Be mindful you are one person, as flawed and imperfect as you are, as beautiful and lovely as you are. Take care of yourself.