STRESS! For most of us it’s unavoidable. At work, at home…it can really take a toll on your health if not kept in check. But is there a very simple way to keep a lot of that stress at bay? So simple it is only comprised of two letters…NO! Learning to say “NO” and not feel guilty is something that may take a little work to achieve (notice I said that it was “so simple”…I did not say “so easy!”).
Do you ever get the feeling that everyone you know wants something from you…and sometimes it feels like it’s all at once? Of course you know the feeling…and the feelings it can lead to…stress! You want to reduce your stress level, but you don’t want to upset anyone either. This is what makes handling requests crucial for your mental well-being. Handling requests is a lot like managing tasks–you must identify the things you don’t need to do and learn how to say “NO!” Yes, it can feel extremely uncomfortable at first. It might even cause some friction between you and certain individuals, but it sets clear boundaries and people will soon learn to respect you and your time. So the sooner you get comfortable saying “NO” the sooner you will find an improvement in your time management and your interpersonal relationships, which is guaranteed to lead to a reduction in stress!
So why don’t many of us say “NO” more often? Because by saying “YES” when you really mean “NO” is a form of approval seeking behavior. Because you are so desperately trying not to upset someone and you want to avoid an argument, you end up disregarding your own needs to satisfy theirs. Let me assure you that approval seeking is a huge waste of time–people don’t really respect those who are not true to themselves. And to add insult to injury? Approval seeking actually increases stress–not reduce it! When you must always need the approval of others, you are in a constant state of anxiety and worry as you are fearful that they may disapprove of you.
So what are some strategies you can use to help you to reduce stress by just saying “NO?”
- Just say NO–Most invitations or requests that you get simply require a one word answer. No need to give a reason for declining the request as this can just make the situation more difficult as it gives the person making the request the opportunity to question your reason.
- Respect your rights–Sure, people have the right to make requests of you, but you also have every right to decline. If you feel obligated to say “YES” then you are just placing the obligation on yourself. Nobody can obligate you to do anything. Since they are merely making a request, you can merely decline the request if you so choose.
- Be positive if you feel that you need to explain–If you receive a request from a family member or close friend, you may want to provide a reason. Just be sure to explain the reason in the positive. This requires you to explain how you are benefiting from declining. Saying something like “Unfortunately, I can’t go the movies with you. I have been spending extra time at work this past week and I need to spend time with my family.” By being clear and honest, your friends will understand that you are not rejecting them, but caring for yourself.
- Learn to accept disapproval–Look–be real. You just can’t please everyone. No matter what decision you make, there will always be those who disapprove. So make sure the decision you choose is right for you, and learn to accept the disapproval of others.
Lesson learned! Being able to handle requests effectively is certainly an integral part of life. It helps you to manage your time, your relationships, and your sanity (i.e., stress levels). There will be times where you will gladly want to accept requests, but there will be other occasions where you will want to say “NO!” While it may be easy to cave in and agree to these requests, you will only pay the price with your time, health, and relationships if you repeatedly do this. Saying “NO!” is the fastest way to reduce stress, maintain quality relationships with the people who are most important to you, and maximize your time.
And as always, if you or someone you know needs some guidance in how to add stress reduction to your current program, call me at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute Discovery Visit to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t delay–schedule now!