My focus this year has been on paying more attention to my needs and being more intentional about self-care. I’ve explored why self-care is so difficult for women and what self care actually is (hint: it is different for everyone). In popular culture self-care has been often boiled down to the slang term “treat yo’ self,” and while that can be true, it’s not really the true purpose of self-care.
Self-care is not only doing things for yourself, but choosing what you aren’t going to do. Self-care can be saying no. And often saying no can be a whole lot harder then making sure you are eating your veggies everyday. If you are a people pleaser, then perhaps you don’t want to let anyone down. If you are a perfectionist then you will want to be able to do everything (and do it well) without ever having to say no. And sometimes saying no means saying no to something you may want to do, but just can’t right now.
Saying no sucks sometimes. You may have fear of missing out on whatever you have said no to. You may be afraid that the person you say no to might have a negative reaction. You may worry that you will regret saying no in the future.
But saying no has the power of putting your needs first, which is exactly what self-care is all about. It is a way of standing up for yourself and recognizing what isn’t working for you. Don’t be so worried about being kind to other people that you forget to be kind to yourself.
Think about what you should be saying no to:
What don’t you have the energy to be doing?
Just because everyone else seems (and that is the key: seems) to have superhuman energy stores, doesn’t mean that you do. We all have limits and yours are not going to look like your coworker’s or next door neighbor’s. Pay attention to what your body and your mind is telling you.
This is especially true for me as an introvert. I recharge by time spent alone and that means sometimes saying no to social outings when I am drained for the day or week. Or acknowledging that sometimes I don’t have the bandwidth for large, noisy parties or networking events and choosing instead to connect with people one-on-one or in smaller groups.
Burn-out and high stress levels are a real problem today in both the workplace and our personal lives. It comes from having emotionally draining jobs, from trying to juggle too many responsibilities, and from feeling like we always have to measure up in some way. This is why it is really important to recognize your limits and to know when you need a break or to let something go.
You are the only person that can advocate for what you need for your physical and mental health and wellness.
What don’t you have the time to be doing?
Our time is finite and valuable. It is impossible to fit even everything we would like to be doing into any given day, much less what everyone else would like us to be doing too. And even if a commitment is just cutting into your time to relax and recharge it is okay to say no just for that reason!
What would happen if instead of sucking it up when you have another project dumped on you, you pushed back politely or tried to come up with a creative solution to lessen your workload?
Do after work happy hours drain your wallet and eat into your time to cook a healthy dinner or spend time with your significant other? If you’d still like to hang out with coworkers, plan something over lunch or suggest a monthly hang out instead.
Did you volunteer to make cookies for a party or event you are volunteering for and just don’t have the time to actually do it? Pick some up at the grocery store and put them on a plate. No one will no the difference and most everyone wouldn’t care even if they did. Some things just aren’t worth it.
What do you flat out just not want to do?
You know what you really don’t have time to be doing? Things you don’t want to be doing in the first place. Now, we’ve all got stuff in our lives that we have to do that we don’t want to do, like cleaning toilets and maybe some of the annoying parts of our jobs. But most of the stuff that we are saying yes to (when we don’t want to) we should probably being saying no to.
Don’t want volunteer for a role that doesn’t line up with your interests or strengths at all? Just say no or find someway to help that you actually would enjoy.
Can you delegate something you hate doing to someone that it is a better fit for? Pass it on!
Hate the chaos that a big family holiday gathering or a toxic family member creates for your emotions? Say no to spending your time in those settings and create your own traditions with your immediate family or friends.
Here’s my challenge for you: say no to something today. Don’t apologize, don’t make excuses. Your inclination may be to explain away why you are saying no. Guess what? In most cases you don’t need to. Own that no!
What will you say no to today?
Check out my other posts on Self-Care: