A few weeks ago, I sent out the first part of why saying no is vitally important to your life and your health. Many of us have never taken a step back to really evaluate life as we know it. We’ve gotten so used to going through the everyday motions that we’ve neglected to see if where we’re at is where we actually want to be. I know it’s cliché, but honestly, this life is short— wouldn’t it be a tragedy if we spent most of it appeasing everyone else—to the point of exhaustion? Practicing the art of saying no is actually just the beginning of learning to identify your priorities and what’s really important to you.
Before I get to some easy ways to help you start making better choices, here are a few other things you should think about before you speak that altogether overused and somewhat dangerous three-letter word (Y-E-S):
Saying yes when you really mean to say no may be due to the fact that you have trouble prioritizing and thinking clearly.
Have you taken the time to evaluate the negative implications of saying yes to something? If not, consider the fact that your current stress levels may be far and above where they really should be. I’ve heard several people I work with say, “I feel like I suffer from confusion.” It might sound kind of silly, but the truth of the matter is that difficulty making important decisions can lead to problems with anxiety down the road. It can show up in another popular form as well, for instance when your mind feels like it’s spinning and won’t quiet down, particularly at night. If you feel like you have trouble making sound decisions or can’t seem to slow your mind down, consider the fact that you may be operating in overdrive and really need to learn to say no more frequently.
Feeling overwhelmed because you’ve said yes to one too many things puts YOU on the back burner.
Forgetting to focus on where you’re at personally can cause you to wake up one day and realize you’ve lost yourself in the process of everyday life. This can show up in all kinds of ways from losing hope to feeling stuck in your job to realizing how unhappy you are with how you look and feel. All of a sudden life “catches up with you” and you realize you are not where you want to be. If you feel like you’ve lost a sense of peace, lack joy or motivation, consider the fact that perhaps you’ve been putting one too many things—or others—ahead of your priorities.
Finally, and most importantly, saying yes too frequently can contribute to stress related illnesses.
By now I think it’s pretty obvious that adding more to your plate than you can handle causes stress. However, it’s important to note just how stressed we’ve allowed ourselves to become. In fact, the American Institute of Stress says 75-90% of all primary care visits are for stress-related complaints or disorders. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard that stress can make us sick but did you know that:
- Pain of any kind
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Sleep issues
- Autoimmune diseases
- And skin conditions (like eczema)…can all be related to your stress levels?
Not that I’m trying to be the bearer of bad news of anything, but it just makes me wonder why so many of us continue to overwhelm ourselves when we’re obviously overdone as it is?
The good news is that you can change your circumstances! Here are just a few simple ways to help get you started:
Build down time into your schedule/between activities. I know it sounds crazy, but it is possible to rearrange how your day looks. You may not be able to make this happen every single day, but you can begin to make little changes by simply cutting out unnecessary daily tasks and events—if you try.
Recognize the importance of sleep! I know I’ve said this before, but seriously, getting a decent night’s sleep really does make a difference! Remember: your body does most of its healing and repair work between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. Not only does it do the body good, but the added zzz’s will help you think clearly and function efficiently the next day. The beauty of it is that you get to tell your body what to do. So turn off the TV, allow your mind a little peace and quiet…and tell it to go to bed at a reasonable time!
Refuse to give impulsive “yesses.” Instead of immediately saying yes, pause and take some time to think about how this will affect your current workload, stress levels and family commitments. It is okay to tell someone that you will get back to them with an answer after you have taken the time to process what you’re being asked to do and how it will affect your life.
Define what’s important to you to see if what you’re being asked to do aligns with your personal and professional goals.
If you aren’t satisfied with where you’re at and where you’re headed, then maybe it’s time to reorganize and re-prioritize. You never know, it just might change your life!