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​Learning How To Say "No" As Self Care

Last updated August 16, 2021

A crucial part of self-care is being able to set aside time for yourself. With a regular rhythm, it’s important to be able to say “No” to any of the many responsibilities weighing on you - like school, friends, family, work, life itself. Doing so allows us the necessary space to relax, decompress, go get that snack you’ve been craving, or whatever you feel like doing. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to politely, inoffensively say “No!” to stressors when you need to, without disrupting your life!

How to Say No 

Say it early!

The longer you wait to express your own boundaries, the more uncomfortable it becomes for the person asking something of you to hear that “No.” Whether you need more time on an assignment, or you can’t make it to lunch with your friend that afternoon, say “No” ASAP when you know you aren’t down.

Be honest

Believe it or not, people actually like and respect you more when you set boundaries for yourself and start saying “No” to things you don’t want to do, or need more time to prepare for. Life, as this past year has shown, can be pure, challenging chaos - and needing time for yourself is not a reflection of personal failure or disrespect for the person asking something of you! 

Just remember to be respectful when saying no to anyone. People might not be aware of your boundaries until you express them - so take a moment to check that the message you want to send is kind. 

Suggest an alternative

Offer a different time, or a new activity that’s more in line with your interests if it’s a friend asking, or for a slightly extended deadline if it’s your teacher (or boss) asking for something. Suggesting alternatives is the best way to demonstrate respect for yourself, and for the person who might need something from you.

Why saying “No” is so important

  1. If you’re overextending yourself, saying “No” is the best way to regain control of your life.
  2. Saying “Yes” to everything can lead to burnout. If you’re burnt out, you won’t produce your best work, be the best friend, get the grades you want in classes, etc.
  3. You gain confidence when you start saying “No”. First time’s the hardest, but you’ll find the control you gain is priceless.
  4. You deserve time for yourself!
  5. As things open back up, you might not be as comfortable as others to get right back into things like hanging out with friends, going places, etc. This is completely valid, and you should feel comfortable asking for patience as things evolve post-COVID. 

Looking for more ways to practice self-care? Or calming activities to occupy yourself with all the free-time you’ll have once you harness the power of saying “No?” Check out these 15 calming exercises and hobbies, this beginner’s guide on how to practice meditation, and these free resources for young people to access therapy, and more. 

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