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Self Care Sunday: Saying No

May 27, 2018

Another Self-Care Sunday installment! These are super short posts that touch on the topic of self care, either by providing small tips to take care of yourself throughout the day, or touching on one topic. This info is not meant to replace any type of therapy you may already be receiving, or any information or advice you may have received from your medical or mental health providers. If anything, this is just information from one person who cares to another. Today, it's about saying no. I wanted to write about this because so many people have trouble saying no, and it can sometimes get in the way of taking care of ourselves.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to finish your work on time, you still have a lot to do, it's only 15 minutes until your workday ends, and someone asks for your help with something? Or maybe your friend is calling because they need money, a ride, or just someone to talk to about their day. It's the quality of a good friend to be helpful, of course. But we also have to learn when to say no.

Pay attention to your immediate emotion. As in, the moment someone has asked you for help, whatever that request might be. Maybe you genuinely feel the desire to help them and it won't really take much out of you. But maybe the moment you received the request, you felt a little annoyed. Maybe you're already feeling distraught, rushed, or stressed, and this additional request feels like too much to handle. It's okay to feel this, you feel how you feel, and it doesn't make you a bad friend. A true friend will understand and respect when you say no.

One question you might ask yourself is, "Might I grow to resent them for helping them now instead of later?" If you feel like you might grow to resent them, or if this has happened to you before, a situation where you helped someone and then couldn't take care of yourself as a result so you felt resentful, then you can recognize your pattern and do something different. You might also ask yourself if this person will still be a friend whether you help them or not. Will they understand that right now you can't help? If not, then maybe they're not really a very good friend.

Sometimes we need to say no to social events or hanging out with friends, even if we have nothing else to do. Sometimes we just need some alone time or we're not feeling that great physically or emotionally. It's okay to turn down invitations at times. Some people need alone time to recharge their batteries (introverts), while others benefit from being with friends (extroverts). If you're more of an introvert, and you feel drained and need to recharge, you might need to say no and trust that your friends will understand.

A note about this last point: Sometimes when we're depressed or anxious, our minds will tell us things like, "You're not gonna have fun anyway so why bother," or, "Nobody there is going to talk to you," or maybe even, "Nobody likes you, why bother going?" These might be situations in which turning down something might actually reinforce those negative thoughts. Think about what is best for you and what your real reasons are.

Thanks for reading, and check back weekly for additional brief self-care posts. I hope these tiny bits are helpful, and that you have a great week. Take care of yourselves! ♥

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