Until about 6 years ago, I used to say yes to everyone—friends, co-workers, family members, professors and employers. I wanted to be well liked and I never wanted to let anyone down. I was a people pleaser.
I was constantly overcommitted and I wasn’t taking care of my own needs as much as I should have. I thrived on this busy lifestyle.
My life didn’t feel exciting and adventurous if my schedule was too open. For so long, I had neglected my need to slow down and check in with myself. Eventually, this way of living blew up in my face.
In my junior year of college, I experienced my first panic attack. I was eating dinner with friends when suddenly, my body started shaking uncontrollably, my heart was pounding through my chest, my perception was thrown off and I was the most frightened I had ever been in my life.
I thought I was dying. Thank God, I was wrong.
I wasn’t prepared for how this episode would alter my everyday life. From that point forward, I experienced countless panic attacks and persistent anxiety. I had to completely change the way I was living because I had no other option.
I dedicated my time to figuring out what was triggering my anxiety and finding the best ways to alleviate the symptoms. I practiced more yoga, started meditating, received acupuncture treatments and went to a massage therapist. I read positive texts, spoke openly and honestly, made sure I was getting enough sleep, became more mindful and slowed down my busy life.
I’ve made countless life changes over the years.
The biggest factor in allowing myself this time to heal and to get the anxiety under control was learning to say “No” more often.
Whether you deal with anxiety or not, giving yourself permission to say “No” provides the power to delegate where and when you create space for yourself. It’s still possible to be of service and to show up for others without sacrificing your own well being. You just have to find a balance.
Being busy is not (ever) the answer. In fact, when you’re busy, you’re not showing up for your loved ones in the way that you should be. Whether you’ve been forced, like I was, to eliminate a busy lifestyle or you just feel like you need to create more space for what matters, you can benefit from learning to say “No”.
The Power of Saying “No”
Here are six ways your life will improve by saying “No”:
1. Experience less anxiety and stress.
This is number one for me, for obvious reasons. Since I stopped trying to be everywhere and do everything with everyone, I’ve been able to address my own needs and find time for relaxation in moments where I used to feel rushed.
2. Enter into quality relationships.
When you start decluttering your schedule, you can slow down and truly enjoy the time that you choose to spend with others.
3. Increase productivity.
Giving yourself and your work the undivided attention it deserves is priceless. You won’t be so preoccupied with a laundry list of things to get to. You will have more time to be alone with your thoughts, explore your ideas and pursue your passions.
4. Enjoy wholesome “me” time.
This is huge. When I lived the busy life, I had “me” time but I’d rush through those activities—which misses the point, in my opinion. Now, the time that I allot for myself is so special and rejuvenating for my soul. I carefully choose what I want to do and I soak up every second without thinking “what’s next?”
5. Improve family time.
My husband and I agree that our best days are spent just being present with our two little girls, regardless of what we’re doing. Whether we’re visiting the Zoo or just playing in the backyard on a beautiful afternoon, we can fully enjoy spending time together when we’re not overcommitted. We can enjoy our time together because we’re not distracted by other obligations.
6. Experience freedom.
When you have time and space in your schedule, you have more freedom. Be intentional about what takes up your time. Relish in the new found blank spaces in your calendar and make it an opportunity to add more meaning to your life.
Be inspired by my experience and develop a life for yourself where you can feel okay with saying “No”. Everyone deserves to take care of their own needs and to be free of a busy, anxious and stressful life.
Anxiety is still something I deal with but it doesn’t take over my life anymore because I’ve learned to take care of my own needs before I commit to others.
Learn to say “No” for the sake of saying “Yes” to a better life.