Why saying ‘no’ is self-care in action

Self-care can sometimes mean saying no, and it can be a really hard lesson to learn for some women.

Many of us tend a little towards people-pleasing, always being polite and pitching in to help. Many advertisements still portray us a picture of glowing positivity and acquiescence, saying yes to every hurdle or challenge brought our way. We are a walking depiction of being a YES – as if being a no has to be a negative, a sin to be avoided.

But there are real dangers to always saying yes. These include:

By being a yes person consistently, you are compromising your health, happiness, and freedom of choice. Or you’re simply getting yourself exhausted by it all.

It’s not an idea championed by modern life and society, where everyone moves at an electric pace and the idea is to meet life goals no matter what it takes. Technology, after all, has afforded everyone the speed and ability to get things done – so no excuses, right? Wrong.

It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to beg off from an appointment if you feel you’re on the edge of breaking. It’s okay to reschedule date plans with girl friends if you’re not up for it this weekend. It’s okay to prioritise your needs, wants, desires, preferences, options, and ultimately your decision on how you’d like to spend your time and where you want to be.

Here’s why. Self-care is defined as something we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, as well as physical health. It’s key to improving mood and reduced anxiety, and to having a good relationship with yourself and others.

Self-care isn’t something you force yourself to do, or something you don’t enjoy doing. It’s “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us,” says Agnes Wainman. It’s about living a balanced life, where you stick to the basics and find your own rhythm and routine.

Self-care isn’t selfishness or unprofessionalism either. It doesn’t mean saying no for the sake of saying no; it’s about knowing what we need to know in order to take care of ourselves and subsequently others, not just about considering our needs. Look at it this way: if you don’t take enough care of yourself, you won’t be in a good place to do the same for your loved ones.

It’s important to create a “no” list, and populate it with things you know you don’t like or you no longer want to do. Some examples are:

During the time of the month, it’s okay to force yourself out of bed when you absolutely need to be somewhere, e.g., an important day at work or a long-planned meeting. But it’s also acceptable to stay in if you’re feeling awful, crampy, and needing some extra TLC.

Go on and say no – it’s self-care in action. You owe it to yourself.

Sara Bishop is an advocate for young girls and has a professional career that started at age 14. She worked a number of administration, research, and advisory positions before helping lead multiple companies, including a construction firm and a sales and marketing agency. She lives in Queensland with her husband Luke and their three children. She is the force behind Perfect Timing, a women’s wellness service that delivers customised parcels filled with feminine products to transform THAT time of the month into THE time of the month. Learn more on this page.

Posted November 13th at 4:02am