Learning To Say No

The word ‘no’ is often associated with being rude, ignorant or selfish and is often discouraged.

But is it really such a horrid word?

In some cases yes – when we are turned down for a job, when our house offer isn’t accepted, when someone decides they no longer want to spend time with us; it’s easy to see why the word ‘no’ has such a bad reputation.

However, when it comes to achieving a work/life balance and managing your stress; the word ‘no’ is essential.

Somewhere in time, human beings decided that they were in fact superheroes. Of course they could have full time jobs (for some a part time job on top), complex relationships, no sleep, multiple children,  multiple pets, multiple cars, big houses, active holidays, look after their families, socialise with their friends, engage in exercise several times a week and have the body to match, cook every meal from fresh, update their social media at least 5 times a day, manage their finances well AND remain healthy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful it that was sustainable?!

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes we need to say no and accept that it’s okay to say no. Of course we need all of the above in our life but we need to achieve balance to remain healthy. If you have children and/or pets you do need to prioritise their health and wellbeing too, but there are adjustments that we can make.


Say no to the one extra episode of Stranger Things (or Grey’s Anatomy in my case), Netflix will still be there in the morning.

If you are feeling exhausted yet your friends what you to join them down the pub… except for the fear of missing out, I expect it’s perfectly feasible to decline the offer. 

Rest is essential… as my Mum always used to say ‘it helps the little soldiers fight all the germs’. Sleep is essential for mental and physical recovery, learning and memory, keeping your immune system in good working order, mood regulation and consolidation of your day.

Research has found that a lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of experiencing depression so I would really recommend prioritising your sleep (and no that doesn’t mean you can ring your boss to say you’ll be in late because you’re having a lie in.. sorry!)

Healthy Eating and Exercise

Say no that second Krispy Kreme.

I am an advocate that this is another area of priority. If you find yourself in a world of feeling guilty about what you’re eating, moderation with an emphasis on healthy eating will typically remove that feeling. Additionally, try to focus your energy on being healthy rather than thin.

This does mean that sometimes you should say no to our favourite unhealthy treats and some weeks that is definitely more challenging than others.

Exercise is very good for mental health; it distracts you from your worries and releases feel good endorphins. It is also good for managing your weight. It is recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times per week is a healthy level of exercise.

On the flip side to this, excessive impact exercise such as running is having a huge impact on the health of our hips and knees with surgeons reporting that younger people are needing replacement joints. Please do bear that in mind.


Say no to taking on another client or working an extra shift.

I learnt the hard way that sometimes the stress of the job will never go away and sometimes you just have to accept that the job isn’t for you. A lot of people recommend that if you’re drowning at work then you just need a holiday… I disagree. Yes you will come back with recharged batteries (assuming your active holiday isn’t too active) but before you know it you will be on the way to being burnt out and need another holiday. If you find yourself in this vicious cycle I would seriously consider working out if there is another company or job you could go to. Or go part time and pick up a less stressful second part time job.

Financial Stress

It’s tempting to write ‘HA!’ and leave this part blank.

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of us non-millionaires are finding that times are getting tougher. Everything is getting more expensive (don’t get me started on the cost of fuel – it was £1.49 per litre on the motorway last Saturday!) and the £ (and I’m sure other currencies) just isn’t stretching like it used to.

We have recently done a financial overhaul and I cannot recommend anything more than using a spreadsheet to track your outgoings. In times of a financial crisis (e.g. loss of a job) it could not be more useful to use to help work out a plan of action. We have been saying ‘no’ to the more expensive supermarkets for a while now – we have completely switched to Aldi and B&M and are saving £40-50 a WEEK on our food bill which is absolutely ludicrous.

Complex Relationships

Love Island may get ripped to shreds for ‘staged scenes’ and perhaps they are, but for some people their relationships aren’t that dissimilar. Having been on the receiving end of many a mind game I can honestly say that if you are in the midst of not knowing what an earth is going on – say ‘no’ and walk away. You will not change that person, you will not win. Choose dignity.

The Power of Social Media

This is more of a warning than a specific say ‘no’.

I felt that a lot of the other stressors that I covered were exacerbated by social media. I am not a hater of social media by any stretch of the imagination but I can sure see why people feel pretty rubbish about their own lives when scrolling through a zillion filtered images.

Since May I have spent even more time on social media and for the most part have reconnected with the real world again. However what I found was that I ended up looking at and watching a lot of attractive young women talk about makeup, their designer clothing and their luxury holidays. Now please understand this is not where I started my search – these are the suggestions that appeared on my YouTube page. I open Instagram and there’s even more glamourous women with their extremely expensive makeup and clothing. I have nothing against these women at all, but I assume they appeared as suggestions because of my own personal demographics e.g. female, 31.

I found myself panicking – how come these 25 year olds can afford Chanel bags and I have had about £40 spending money per month for the past 4 years? Where did I go wrong? In fact, it is only this month that I have discovered that there are Primark, Ebay and Home Bargain hauls on YouTube. Real life does exist on social media, it’s just less readily available.

As humans we appear to be placing more and more pressure on ourselves to be perfect, yet we know that perfection does not exist. The best thing you can do for your life is be the person you want to be. Too many people are keen to express their opinions and not appreciate others values. One rule does not apply to all. We are all unique and we should be able to say no when we want to.



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