Managing Your Stress and Life by Saying No

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While saying “yes” to everything may please your workmates, friends, and loved ones, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. This is especially true if you’re always rushing into deadlines and obligations and have no ample time to take care of yourself. When you overcommit to things and work, it is easy to get overwhelmed, with stress creeping up without you even knowing.

Reducing stress in your life can sometimes be as simple as saying “no.” If you’re willing to say this two-letter word, you can devote more quality time to your existing tasks and obligations. You will then have more time for yourself and prioritize your needs and feelings. Below are a few other reasons why you should say no.

  • Saying yes to everything is not healthy — When you’re always trying to cram lots of tasks into a short amount of time, you’re more likely to get stressed out. Too much stress can manifest itself not just in emotional symptoms but also in physical ones. These include body aches, pains, upset stomach, and frequent colds and infections.
  • Saying no to extra tasks means saying yes to yourself — This will enable you to try new things and hobbies or do things you love. You can also devote your extra time to de-stressing activities like getting a facial, booking a massage or spa treatment, reading a book, or meditating. Don’t feel guilty; having me-time isn’t selfish.
  • Saying no gives others a chance to say yes — When you say no, you allow others to say yes and step up. This will give them time to grow and improve while you concentrate more on your priorities. And instead of fulfilling any tasks or requests thrown at you, you can delegate. This helps build trust, empower your team, and improve productivity.


How to say no (or get better at it)

Although it may seem simple to say no, it can sometimes be tough. If you always find yourself saying yes even when you want to say no or want to get better at saying no, here are a few things that help:

  • Say no — If you really want to refuse a request or a task, don’t be afraid to say no. Avoid weak or vague substitutes like “I’m not sure,” “Maybe not this time,” or “I don’t think so.” If you don’t want to be misinterpreted, later on, use and say the word no confidently.
  • Be clear and brief — Give a straightforward and concise reason for not being able to comply. Avoid elaborate or drawn-up justifications. If you have too much to do or other obligations, say you’re swamped with work right now.
  • Be honest — Don’t make up reasons or lies to get out of a commitment. When turning down something, tell the truth. You sure don’t want to get caught lying later on.
  • Say no with respect — If you want to say no to a good cause or opportunity, say no respectfully. Express kindness or use a few words that can help the recipient feel less bad despite your refusal. You can say, “Thank you for considering me. That sounds great, but I’m sorry I can’t” or “I really appreciate your asking me, but now is not a good time.”
  • Be prepared to repeat — Sometimes, you may need to say no repeatedly for the recipient to accept that you really can’t. When this happens, say no calmly and respectfully.
  • Assess what you really feel (when you can’t say no) — When you’re on the fence about saying no, assess what you really feel about it. What was your first reaction when you first heard the request? If the thought of doing something makes you feel sad, tired, or terrible, it’s time to reevaluate your decision.

Why say yes when you actually mean no? It is not really selfish to say no. It is sometimes necessary for your health and well being. If you want to reduce your stress levels and simplify your life, learn how to say no. Practice, and you’ll get better at it.

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