Simple Living: Self-care and the Importance of Saying No

It's no secret that there is a lot of busyness in our lives these days. If we work outside the home, we're trying to maintain balance between our work and personal lives. If we have kids, we're taxiing them all over town for practices or clubs. We may travel for work and constantly be battling airlines and jet lag and schedules with no daily routine. We may have aging parents that are under our care. We probably get asked often to donate to causes or chip in for birthday gifts, or serve on the PTA or a Rotary committee. It can feel like there is no end to the demands on our time and our money.

So, sometimes you just have to say no for the sake of your sanity. Really, it's OK to politely turn down the next person that asks you for something. We all need to find time to get away to do something for ourselves and not feel guilty about it. It's called self-care and here is why it's important:

1. You need to put on your oxygen mask first. If you've flown on an airplane, you've heard the announcement about putting on your oxygen mask first before assisting others. This is because you need to be functioning first before you can help others function. It works the same in life. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your kids, your aging parents, or your tasks at work. It's not only that you can't take care of them, but that they will feel the stress that is emanating from you. As the saying goes, "If Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy!"

2. Saying 'Yes' adds extra stress. Stress leads to less sleep, less leisure time, less exercise, and a less effective immune system. When we're overworked or exhausted, our bodies take all the stress on board. If you don't take time for self-care (for exercise, for reading, for gardening... for doing the things you like to do), your body and your mind will pay the price. You'll get sick, your muscles will ache, you'll get headaches, you'll lose energy and interest in the things you enjoy and the people you love.

3. A 'no' to something you don't enjoy means a 'yes' to something you really care about. No one ever said, "I wish I had spent more time working and being on the PTA than spending time with my family" on their death bed. We only have so many hours in the day and only so many years on this planet. We should allocate and prioritize them wisely. A 'no' to additional hours at the office means a 'yes' to spending more time with your kids, going for a long walk, or gardening. Doing those things will make you feel good -- and when you feel good physically and mentally, you can be so much more productive and positive in all facets of your life.

Just remember - it's not a one time thing. Self-care is something you have to commit to on a continual basis. Ask for help, take a nap, go to yoga, go for a long walk, stretch, steal away to the mall for an hour... whatever it is that will recharge the batteries, reduce stress, and make you feel good. Even if you can't get out of the house to go to the gym, there are some great exercise apps that you can watch or download so you can get that yoga time or barre 3 time or whatever you enjoy doing into whichever time frame it will fit.

When have you had to say 'no' to a demand on your time? How did you do it? Why did you do it?


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