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.
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?