I am starting a series of weekly posts that emphasize self-care. We are living in stressful times with constant news stories about strife and discord in this nation and worldwide. I think it is very important at this time to focus on taking care of self. Many millennials are recognizing the importance of maintaining healthy practices, both for improved physical and mental health.

Today, I will focus on the power of saying no.

The ability to say no is a skill that I have had to develop over time. I am inherently a people pleaser and a staunch believer in the ideology that “you reap what you sow.” So I hate to disappoint others and say no if I am asked to do something, even if it is to my own detriment.

When I was in college, I was in multiple organizations and maintained leadership roles in many of them. These responsibilities were in addition to maintaining excellent grades in my pre-med courses with a hope of admission to medical school. During this time in my life, I would never say no. As a leader, my desire to please everyone sometimes caused discord within the group when member’s ideas and desires conflicted with others and the overall functioning of the group as a whole. As a student, taking on more projects and extra coursework to please my professors often led to more stress and fatigue. After a period of time, I reached a point where this was not sustainable. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I developed health problems secondary to the stress and quickly realized that if I wanted to give the best of me to others, I had to be selective of what and when I give. When I became selective, I felt more empowered to take on projects and tasks that I felt passionate about and in turn found more fulfillment.

Now at this point, you may think I am advising you to say no to everything other than what benefits you. That is not at all what I am communicating. Actually, if you say no to everything that does not seem beneficial, you will miss out of a tremendous amount of opportunities. Last year, I read “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes which describes the personal and professional growth she enjoyed when she decided to say yes to all opportunities that presented themselves even when they took her out of her comfort zone (I highly recommend this book and I put a link to purchase it from Amazon at the end of the post). If we always refuse to say yes to opportunities that make us uncomfortable, then we risk stunting our own growth.

My point is, you have to have balance. Too much of anything can be detrimental. If you say yes to any and everything, you risk burn out and spreading yourself too thin. If you say no to everything, you risk missing out on opportunities and nurturing complacency. I admit, I am a work in progress in achieving this balance but I recognize the importance and it has helped me to eliminate unneeded stress.

What techniques have you used to improve self-care? Have you found that saying no more has improved your overall well-being? Please feel free to comment your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!