Stress has become the byword in the medical community, taking the blame for everything from obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and a hundred other conditions. So anytime we can reduce stress it’s a good thing.
Believe it or not, the easiest way to remove stress from your life lies in the ability to say one simple word: “No.”
How do you know when to say ‘no’?
- Ask yourself first what value does saying ‘yes’ hold for you. Chances are saying ‘yes’ is going to involve a commitment of some kind. How would saying ‘yes’ affect other commitments? By saying ‘yes’ now are you going to have to say ‘no’ to something else later? Is this important enough for you to turn down something else? What will you gain by saying ‘yes’? What would you lose? A careful examination of your life will tell you if this is worthwhile or not.
• A ‘yes’ should enhance your happiness OR
• A ‘yes’ should advance your career OR
• A ‘yes should have a positive impact on something you believe deeply
Anything else and you need to ask yourself very seriously just why you’re saying ‘yes.’ A yes without value is guaranteed to cause you stress.
- Ask yourself what will saying ‘yes’ do to your current stress levels. By saying yes are you going to increase those stress levels? If so, by how much?
Stress is inherent in life. Chances are taking on any new project is going to cause at least a little bit of stress. But there’s a big difference between the anxiety of a minor deadline and a nervous breakdown because you’ve taken on the project that no one else is taking seriously or is working on at all.
If you can’t live with the added stress, then it’s definitely time to say ‘no.’
- Feeling guilty about this decision? If so, head for the hills. Anytime you agree to something out of guilt, you’ve got stress in spades. And it’s only going to get worse. Definitely take a pass – and then tell any residual guilt to get lost. It’s not your problem.
- Give it time. If you’re not sure about saying ‘yes,’ then tell the person asking that you want to sleep on it. By giving yourself extra time, you can consider very seriously the pros and cons of saying ‘yes’ – and also try to get a handle on just how much stress you’d be adding into your life by agreeing. Time gives distance, which gives a clearer view of a situation and makes it easier to say ‘no’ if it isn’t going to work out.
The takeaway from all this? Too much stress in your life already means it’s time to look for some opportunities to say ‘no’ – even to things you’ve previously said ‘yes’ to. The first few times you say ‘no’ will be difficult. You are breaking a habit. Consider what saying ‘yes’ verses saying ‘no’ will mean to you and your stress level. You know yourself better than anyone else will. Protect your peace of mind – and your health – by learning when and how to say ‘no.’