As holidays and the end of the year are approaching, it can be a time of excitement, but also a time of intense stress. There is pressure to make everyone else around you happy that results in putting yourself on the back burner feeling spread WAY too thin. From being torn by varying family and friend commitments, struggling with the concept often reinforced by social media, “I need to be the best at… hosting, gift-giving, decorating, keeping it all together,” to being pressured to take on more at the office due to annual reports or reviews taking place in just a month or two, this time of year is EXHAUSTING. Taking care of ourselves needs to be #1 on our to-do list…ALWAYS. It is of utmost importance as we try to juggle all the necessary tasks swirling around us.
I know I need weekly, heck probably daily, reminders about practicing self-care in the months of November and December. In effort to help you keep your sanity, and even more so, experience joy, I have put together a mini-series , 7 Weeks of Self-Care. Since we all have a packed schedule during this time of year, I’ll try to keep these blog posts somewhat short and straight to the point. Notice how I didn’t include sweet? I may just call you out on a few things in the next seven weeks in effort to help you think about YOU rather than everyone else. No more putting yourself last. Yes, I see you.
Saying “No” is both liberating and required to create an environment for others to value you and your time. Feeling like you are trying to make everybody happy, but are being taken for granted? Or, like you aren’t fully present in any moment constantly focusing on several needs of others? You aren’t saying “No” enough.
Here are four strategies to help you say “No” in effort to say “Yes” to yourself more often. Try it. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.
1. Set a focus
Think about what is most important to you at this time. While everything may be important or seem important, select one or two topics, projects, big tasks and only say yes to things directly related to your focus. I’ve done this in both committee work or even choosing to serve on a committee as well as selecting what I wanted to focus on while hosting a holiday event (i.e. I value creating a celebration space for my friends, but don’t have the energy, money, or time to do everything for a get together. So, I’ll throw an awesome holiday party with a few games and cocktails prepared, but all guests need to bring a dish. I know I’ll be a much more enjoyable host this way).
2. Think of yourself as a traffic light
I learned this method long ago while in a boot camp class with my trainer, Matt Myers, and have applied it toward all things in life requiring my energy, not just physical fitness activities.
Are you green, yellow, or red? Just the other day, I told my husband that I was closing in on orange, so feel free to be in between as well!
- Green–you have enough energy and support to put your best foot forward. If you are green, you can say yes to a task without feeling over-extended or being spread too thin. If you are green, you are feeling fully present in your daily activities.
- Yellow–hold up! Reassess the situation. If you are needing to push a little too hard (flooring it) to make it through, saying “No” right about now could be necessary. If you are a hard yellow, you should only be saying yes to things that are super duper easy and require very little energy. If you go for saying yes too much while you are a yellow light, you won’t make it through and a breakdown is most likely in your future.
- Red–No! Just say No! Saying yes to anything else right now is going to put you at-risk for much bigger problems ahead than if you would have said “No.” This is a time to rest and realize that anything extra right now would not get your full attention and will only create more problems for you and possibly others as well.
3. Start saying no to perfection and guilt
No more comparing yourself to others. I’ll let you in on a secret, as real as perfect may seem on social media, there is no such thing. Once you can start saying no to perfection and stop comparing yourself to others, saying “No” is going to seem like a cakewalk. How liberated would you feel if you could start saying “No” to the following?
- Comparing your family to other families that seem perfect. This has been a past struggle for me, but I have embraced my unique circumstances and have created traditions based upon this. The holiday season is much more enjoyable now!
- Comparing your holiday or seasonal décor to, lets be honest, what you see on Pinterest.
- Comparing what you have or haven’t done as far as preparing treats or gifts for your children’s class, your office colleagues, or families. As a full-time professional and starting my business, I am saying “No” to the feeling of guilt for not having homemade or the “perfect” holiday themed treat or gift. F that! DISCLAIMER: If you are someone who can do this, more power to you. That’s awesome. Keep doing it if it makes you feel great. Those who feel not up to par, say “No” to this feeling all together. Everyone lives a different story.
- Comparing how you might look compared to other family members at holiday get-togethers. Enjoy your experiences. Indulge. Laugh. Be your beautiful self!
- Comparing work-related achievements when you are surrounded by end-of-the- year meetings, conferences, reports, and casual discussions with family and friends. Celebrate any and all successes. There is no such thing as a small success! Success is success!
4. Ask for help
Need I say more? The most calm and collected individuals know when to ask for help. Great leaders know when to delegate. You’d be surprised how willing others just might be to step in and help with a task or two. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a dangerous chaotic state to ask for help. The time to ask for help is best when you are needing to replace a task with pure rest. You
deserve need rest and will be much more valuable if you are well-rested than someone who is looking to pull their hair out!
To be quite frank, release your inner bitch. Say “no” more often and don’t even begin to feel ashamed. In the words of Meredith Brooks, “I will not feel ashamed…” for having the courage to say “no.” For some extra encouragement to say “No,” enjoy her music video!
You do YOU!