Say no for your mental health

How is it that one of the most common words in the English language is the most difficult for many of us to say?

You are not alone if you struggle with saying “no.” It is so easy and often tempting to say “yes” when what we really mean is “no.” Learning how to say “no” is a critical part in learning how to manage time efficiently to get the most out of life. Learning these skills will help you find balance and purpose in the fast-paced busy world in which we live.

Following are some strategies for saying “no”:

The positive approach:

Try starting and ending with a positive if this helps make you feel better about saying “no.” Insert positive statements before and after the answer “no.”

Not this way: Sometimes requests are simply too large for us to take on. Perhaps we don’t have the time, energy, resources or even interest in the project. Try adjusting the request so it works for you.

Not right now: The timing isn’t always right. Perhaps you are interested in the “ask,” but you recognize your bucket is too full. Be honest and direct in saying “not right now.” “No, it won’t work.”

Just say no: No need for lies, excuses, over explanations. Just simply decline as you have the right to say, “no thanks.” If you have no intention of saying yes, don’t prolong the answer. Be quick, kind and confident. But just say “no.”

Open communication:

How we communicate the “no” is important. Being assertive in our responses and using “I” statements is important for both parties to keep open the channels of healthy communication and taking ownership of your “no” response.

Say goodbye to guilt:

Guilt often plays a significant role in learning to say ‘”no.” Guilt is a feeling you’ve done something wrong or let someone down. When you preserve your time for your most important work and the most important people in your life and the things that mean the most to you, then you can say goodbye to guilt. When you do something because you fear you will feel guilty not doing it, no one wins. You aren’t happy, which means you aren’t really present or giving your all. The project or action suffers, your partners suffer, and you’ve completely overlooked the greater good. Don’t let guilt rule your world.

I leave you with a quote by Nea Joy, who said: “By saying ‘yes’ when you need to say ‘no,’ you cripple the most important relationship in your life — the relationship between you and you.”

I encourage you to take care of you.

From all of us at Healthy Sheboygan County, have a safe, fruitful summer saying “yes” to yourself.

Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and member of Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health Committee