Learning when to say “no” is a crucial form of self care. Practicing self care looks different for everyone. It could be keeping a journal to express yourself, getting enough fruits and veggies, or watching a feel-good TV show.
Figuring out when to say no isn’t talked about quite as often, though. I’ve touched on this topic before, but felt it was important to dedicate a whole post to this topic. Before making a decision, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind!
Learning When to Say No as Self-Care
According to Psychology Today, setting boundaries is a crucial aspect of self love. Dr. Khoshaba states, “You’ll love yourself more when you say no to activities that deplete you physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with saying “no” to plans, opportunities, and commitments. I’d feel this overwhelming sense of guilt until I eventually overcommitted myself.
It could be as small as going out when I needed time alone. Other times, I’d do things that affected my mental health like accepting job offers that weren’t a good fit.
To this day, I still battle with myself when it comes to taking on too many commitments at once. It’s been getting better though as I get older. I wanted to share a few strategies that I’ve picked up on, especially within the last few years.
Above all, remember that your mental health comes first and it’s important to take care of yourself.
1. Listen to your intuition.
Call it your “inner voice” or maybe just plain intuition. Although this strategy isn’t 100% accurate every time, following your instincts can go a long way. I personally have always had a difficult time with trusting myself and would often shut out gut feelings.
Next time you’re unsure of whether or not you want to pursue an opportunity, listen to yourself with intent.
2. Assess what’s on your plate right now.
Are you spreading yourself way too thin? Check your calendar and make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to recharge. If you have too much on your plate, you may run the risk of burning out. Keeping a journal is a great way to map out your day efficiently. It’ll also help you figure out if you’re over-scheduling yourself.
3. Once you’ve made a decision, avoid going back and forth.
A lot of times when we say “no” to things, we’ll end up feeling a sense of guilt afterwards. We’ll tell ourselves things like “Maybe this opportunity would have been good for me…” or “What if so and so doesn’t like me anymore because I had to cancel our plans?”
These kind of thoughts are totally common, but keep in mind that it’s not feasible to say yes to everything. On top of that, just because something is a wonderful opportunity doesn’t necessarily make it the right opportunity. Ultimately, letting go of “what ifs” and “maybe I should haves” is one of the most freeing feelings ever.
4. Remember that your wellbeing is important.
Keep in mind that sometimes saying “no” is the best thing for your wellbeing. Looking after your mental health isn’t selfish and you can’t help others if you’re running on empty.
5. Speak kindly to yourself.
This point hits pretty close to home for me because of my struggles with anxiety. I’ve had to cancel plans before because I was fighting a panic attack or experiencing a high anxiety day. Immediately after I called up friends or even exes, I’d criticize myself for cancelling plans. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that this kind of criticism is toxic and unproductive.
It’s important to hold yourself accountable in life. But always speak to yourself with kindness and respect.
Imagine you were talking to a best friend. What would you say to them?
It can be difficult to gather the courage to say “no.”
Rehearsing what you’re going to say will help you gain confidence in your decision.
If you feel awkward practicing alone, ask someone you trust to act as the other person. State your feelings out loud a few times until you feel more comfortable.
7. Ask yourself: am I only saying yes for others?
Sometimes, we find ourselves overcommitting to things out of obligation or guilt. We don’t want to let anyone around us down and end up saying yes. For example, maybe you’re majoring in something because your parents feel it’s best. Or you’re taking on too much in your daily life.
Before making a decision, ask yourself: am I saying “yes” because I want to? Or am I doing this to please the people around me?
8. Continue checking in with yourself.
Keep in mind that learning when to say “no” and trusting yourself is a process. If you find yourself overcommitting again, take a step back and focus on your wellbeing first. Go for a run, meditate, enjoy a relaxing evening at the beach.
Simply spend restorative time alone with yourself.
Continue checking in with yourself and you’ll begin to notice when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Eventually, it’ll be easier to say “no” to things that don’t make you happy or fulfilled.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and it was helpful, lovelies! 💗Have a great rest of your Friday!! x
Do you ever find yourself overcommitting yourself to things? Also, which point did you relate to or find the most helpful? In what ways do you think learning when to say no relates to self care?
Thanks for this post, so many of us struggle in this area…guilt trips and people pleasing… saying no is a major breakthrough. I tell myself now… ” i won’t get mad when others do what is best for them and Don’t get mad when i do what’s best for me” If you do, then you can’t care, because I rather see others content than stretched out to the point of being stressed out… wonderful post My fair lady
I always struggle to say no to others since I feel so guilty and never really did anything for myself. But I’ve started saying no and an able to really focus on self-care. Great post girl 🙂
Nunzia Martino says
That’s so wonderful that you’re doing things for yourself now, hon! 💖Focusing on self care in general is so important. Sometimes, it’s best to just take a step back from everything and focus on your needs and wellbeing first. 💛x
Diandra Francesca says
Really well thought out post. I also struggle saying ‘no’ because I have the constant fear of ‘missing out’ on something that could’ve been beneficial to me or amazing to experience, so I definitely need to work on those things. I certainly need to follow some of these tips, like assessing what’s on my plate! I’ve got so many things I actually NEED to sort out, yet I’ll continue to add more despite it 😂 great post as always chick, hope you’re doing well!
Nunzia Martino says
Oh my goodness, when you mentioned the constant fear of missing out, I found myself nodding my head in complete agreement!! I’ve always struggled with that so much too!! Lately, I’ve been trying to tell myself that even if it would be a great experience, maybe it’s not the right experience for me right now and there’ll be more opportunities in the future. It’s been helping a lot.
So happy this was helpful and you enjoyed reading the post! I’m doing pretty good this weekend, relaxing at home hehe! Hope you’re having a great weekend, darling! x
This post is super helpful! I have a huge problem with saying no to loved ones. Sometimes when I say yes, i also do the back and forth of deciding if I should change to a no. I also feel the guilt of saying no, especially to loved ones. I’m definitely getting better about it!
I like number 7. I’ll definitely be asking myself that more often too 🙂
Nunzia Martino says
I relate to what you’re saying so much. I find it’s the hardest to say no to loved ones cause of the guilt there, but setting boundaries is so important. Glad to hear you’re getting better with it. 💕Thanks so much for reading, love! x
This is such a lovely post and well written too! Saying no is far from a bad thing, you’re teaching people you have limits and won’t do whatever they want. Saying no is hard but it doesn’t mean if you say no to something right now you won’t say yes in the future or be more open to trying something. Speaking to yourself and treating yourself with kindness is super important <3
Nunzia Martino says
Totally, I agree with everything you said, Chanelle! 💕Sometimes the timing isn’t right, especially when you have a lot on your plate already. And definitely, speaking to yourself with kindness is such a crucial life lesson. I always second guessed my decisions and criticized myself in the past, and I’ve been much happier as of late now that I’m showing more kindness to myself.
Hope you’re having a great weekend, hon! x
Following your gut instinct is another good one as well, if something doesn’t felt right trust it but also if you just feel like sleeping all day and not getting dressed or eating pizza, allow yourself to do it 🙂
Emmitchell M. Sung says
This is a great post. ❤ I’m too getting a lot much better in saying no! 😊
Nunzia Martino says
Thank you so much, hon!! 💖It definitely takes time I’ve noticed from my experience, but I’m happy to hear you’re getting better at it too x
Beautiful post and such an important one 💕 In the past I said yes all the time to things or plans I didn’t enjoy doing. It made me feel even worse and wasn’t good for my anxiety. Now, I have learned to say more no and it’s such a free feeling. I still find it hard but I’m learning to do it more often. Listening to your heart is just so important because it always says you the answer ❤️ I also have felt guilty after canceling a plan for example because of anxiety. I had to do that to take care of myself. I need to please myself instead of always pleasing others. That only will do harm. Your post is amazing. I hope you are also saying no more often 😊
Nunzia Martino says
Oh my gosh, you’re so sweet!! Thank you, hon! I’m glad that you liked this post and related to it. 💓I’ve experienced the exact same thing with it making my anxiety so much worse. Overcommitting yourself is draining, especially when your heart’s just not in it. So happy that you’re starting to say no more and taking care of yourself/your needs. 💛I’m getting a lot better at saying no than I used to be. It’s a work in progress, but I feel a lot happier and content. 😊
Thanks for reading and your kind words, love! 🌸x