In our current high-stress lives we are often striving to be the best employee, friend, mom, or wife leading us to a lifestyle packed with tasks, meetings, and activities. The pressure we place on appeasing everyone else takes its toll on our mental health. Create a much-needed space for your emotional wellbeing. Two simple letters N-O can help you regain control of your life and mental health.
Reasons to say No:
- It isn’t selfish to say no. By declining new commitments, we honor existing commitments and are available to invest high-quality time into them.
- Saying no frees up time for new interests. Just because you help plan the Christmas play every year doesn’t mean you are committed to it forever. Use your newfound time to do something that brings you joy.
- It’s healthy to say no. Overcommitment brings extra stress and high cortisol levels, leading to exhaustion and lower immunity. Stay healthy by saying no.
- Allow others to step up. By saying no, others are allowed to step up and be actively involved. Allow others to find their own way.
When to say no:
- Prioritize. Examine existing commitments, then rank them according to their importance to you. Is this new commitment important to you? If you feel very passionate about it then go for it.
- Yes-to-stress ratio. Is the proposed activity a short or long-term engagement? Avoid committing to months of added stress and time away from your family. Seek out other ways to help.
- Remove guilt from the equation. Don’t allow guilt to pressure you into feeling obligated to take on projects. Allowing guilt to pressure you into accepting more responsibilities is likely to cause more stress and resentment.
- Sleep on it. You don’t have to answer that invite today. Take some time to think about it. Weigh out the pros and cons of how this would fit into your current schedule.
How to say no:
- Use the word no. Be careful not to use two-bit phrases such as “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.” The word “no” has power. Don’t hesitate to use it.
- Keep it brief. State your reason for the request and keep it moving. Avoid over-elaboration or justification.
- Keep it Honest. Be honest when declining invitations. Don’t lie to friends, coworkers, or family. If they care about you, they will understand.
- Keep it Respectful. There will always be requests to help charities or good causes. Keep in mind there are respectful ways to handle these situations. Show your admiration for the group’s work while saying that you can’t commit shows you respect their mission.
- Keep repeating. Stand firm in your decision. You may be asked multiple times before the other person accepts your reply.
I spent my whole 20’s trying to appease everyone. I was one of those “yes” people. It was exhausting. I finally decided that I am important, my mental health is important, my family is important. They deserve the happiest version of me possible. Now, I have no problem saying “no” to things that I am not passionate about. Create space in your life for things that bring you joy and happiness.