North Texas Daily

Learning to say no can improve your mental health

Learning to say no can improve your mental health

Learning to say no can improve your mental health
October 28
12:00 2021

For as long as I can remember, I have always taken free handouts from people. It doesn’t matter if I were even remotely interested in what they were giving me. If I didn’t take the flyer or sign up for the service they were offering, I felt I was letting them down.

It may seem like a small problem, but it can really start to take a toll on mental health. Taking flyers turns into making promises you can’t keep. Learning to say no can benefit you in many ways, so instead of trying to make everyone happy, start focusing on making yourself happy.

The first step to doing this is realizing the world is built on saying yes. Think of shopping as an example. When we go to a clothing store there is always some sort of “buy three get one half off” deal, practically forcing us to buy more than we want. These deals and limitless options make us feel like we are missing out if we aren’t capitalizing on the deal. It increases the anxiety of shoppers because there are so many options. The “super duper saver bundle” may seem like it is a good deal because a flyer says so, but even learning to say no as a shopper is a big step forward.

This is a journey I have been trying to take myself, so my advice may mean nothing, but I have learned a couple of things so far. The first is to always put yourself first. I know it sounds like a given, but when someone asks me for a favor, I am always so worried about how they will react if I say no. I know when we talk about mental health, the first thing anyone says is to value yourself over everything else, but actually following through can be extremely difficult.

It feels like we are finally starting to move past the time of glorifying people who overwork, which is a huge step forward for mental health. You don’t have to go to work if you’re called in on your day off, and you don’t have to go to class if you are having a rough day. A lot of us are taking multiple classes while also having to balance a social life and a job. There are days with overwhelming pressure, and there are others where it feels like there is nothing to do. No matter what your workload looks like for the day, do whatever you feel is best for you. Sitting down and cranking out all of your homework can be just as relaxing as watching movies all day, as long as you are doing so in your own place of comfort.

We have all had days where we wake up and it already feels like an uphill battle. Instead of trying to help everyone else, do what you can for yourself. Enjoy your day off. Turn down the free small book some guy is trying to hand you on campus. It is one thing to say you are going to take care of yourself, but it is another thing to actually do it.

I have struggled with this for the majority of my life, so this journey is new to me too. Saying no to someone shouldn’t need an explanation, even though most of the time we give one anyways. One of my favorite quotes by Annie Lamott is: “’No’ is a complete sentence.”

If you are going through change, you are not alone. The incoming holiday season is always pretty demanding of many, so value yourself over everything else and take your days one step at a time.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

About Author

Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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