Mental Health Monday–Know your “No”

Last Friday, I gave a presentation to approximately 200 third year medical students on how to communicate with patients about the health risks of using alcohol tobacco, and drugs. (I abhor am uncomfortable with public speaking. Even though I can do it well, it’s something I don’t necessarily enjoy. Anyway, that’s another story, LOL!)

Part of the presentation included strategies on how to reduce risk. One of the strategies was, as the title of this post hints, “Know your ‘No’.”

As I reflected on that strategy, I realized it has more far reaching implications than in the realm of substance use.

Think about it. How many times have you felt stretched too thin or overwhelmed with too many obligations?

I know I have.

Why does this happen?

For me, having trouble with “knowing my ‘no'” plays a role.

Sure, if there’s no question about being unable to do something, I can say no. But if I’m interested in doing something or I feel some sort of obligation, it’s harder to say no. Now, I can sustain a busy schedule for quite a while. But what happens when I run out of gas?

For me, everything seems more difficult. I lose energy. I lose the desire to keep up. I retreat to accomplishing the bare minimum.

Then I beat myself up for not getting enough done.

Vicious cycle, right?

So, how can one avoid this spiral?

Consider the following:

  • Take breaks
  • Variety is the spice of life, so make sure to try something new once in a while
  • Hang out with friends
  • Go see a movie–heck, you may even find some inspiration
  • Treat yourself well–even if it’s taking a bubble bath or going for a walk
  • Reassess your goals–is the timeline you’ve developed a little too rigid or difficult to manage? Guess what? It CAN be changed
  • Eat chocolate (This one is my favorite)

AND (drum roll please)…


Do you konw your “no”? What instances have you felt overwhelmed and what was your strategy to get, um, “whelmed”?

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday post and Sarah’s psychologically related post!

Remember these posts are for writing purposes only and are NOT meant to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

28 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Know your “No”

  1. Oh boy, do I need a reminder of my own no right now. I just finished a fortnight in which I worked four days a week and raised my toddler (as usual), plus ran a fortnightly charity playgroup, worked on web content for another charity I’m helping to set up, attended three workshops for the local writers festival, baked and decorated 200 bomboniere cookies for a wedding last weekend, and this weekend baked and decorated a two-tier cake for a birthday!

    I am so, so bad at saying no when what I’m asked to do hits my areas of interest. Aiming to wipe out all that baking to concentrate on writing instead- must work on delegating some of the rest, too! Thanks for the reminders on how to avoid the spiral 🙂

  2. Doris says:

    This last weekend, I considered (and did) all of those suggestions…except the last one…LOL

    Yet here I am thinkin’ I should have done some writing, reading, cleaning, and laundry on the weekend… LOL

    Good post!


  3. vixter2010 says:

    I think you just need to realise you can’t please everyone, everything you do does not have to perfect and you can do the things that make you happy and say no to the ones that won’t! Chocolate def helps in such crises too 🙂

  4. This is a great post and I often find myself extended to the max. I think growing up and being told, “Don’t tell me no.” Really stuck. lol. I’m learning the dirty little word, but now, I have to learn how to let go of the guilt. UGh!

  5. Vicki Tremper says:

    I have gotten much better over the years, especially since having kids, of knowing my “no”. However, when it’s something I want to do, that is harder.

    I’ve learned that to get whelmed again, I should take tiny bites out of my to-do list.

  6. Sarah says:

    Great post, Laura. I’ve gotten better at saying no the older I get, but I also tend to take on a lot and just bury myself in it.

  7. Lynn Rush says:

    Know your no. I like that. My friend, Michele, told me once, “I wish I could say no like you.” She’d asked me to jump on some committee, or do something, I can’t even remember. I simply shook my head, “No can do. I’m on overload right now.”

    Didn’t feel that hard at the time, but I wasn’t always able to do that. Takes time. Like Sarah mentioned, the older you get, I think it gets easier. 🙂

  8. It used to be almost impossible for me to say no. But knowing it was a problem and finally admitting it was a problem helped me a lot. Sometimes it’s still difficult, especially if it involves a friend, but the more times I say no the easier it is to say no the next time.

    Great post.

  9. As I’ve gotten older, I, too, have found my “no” – except when my mom wants something. Telling her “no” is nearly impossible for me. Of course, she’ll just keep talking until I say “yes,” no matter how many times I say “no.” 😉

  10. Indigo says:

    I learned the imperative reasoning of my ‘No’ this past week. I tend to go all gung-ho on projects. I put a self imposed deadline on myself with the current draft I’m working on and well…

    I tried forcing words that weren’t there. After a road trip I found my muse again. Definitely need to learn to close the laptop more often. (Hugs)Indigo

  11. lenny lee says:

    hi miss dr laura! for me i got no trouble with no cause i got pretty much a schedule for my life that i gotta do. you got me thinking on my most oldest brother that had lots of trouble with that a while back. he made up a bunch of “no cards” he carried in his wallet and when he was gonna say yes when he could need to say no he just pulled out one of those cards for a reminder. now hes cool on knowing his nos.
    …hugs from lenny

  12. Ciara Knight says:

    Such great advice. My hubby finally put me in a car with a gift certificate and said don’t come back for at least three hours. He knows that I won’t take time off unless forced to.

  13. I totally agree. I used to be part of a group that, at some point, FORBID me to take on any more projects. I was told that “Gina has to learn how to say no.” It’s something I’m still overcoming, but I’m certainly getting better. And I DEFINATELY agree that eating chocolate does make the stress significantly better.

    ❤ Gina Blechman

  14. Lydia K says:

    It took a long time for me to know how to say no. And even now, I’m still kind of bad at it. Usually, I go with my gut. If my gut screams “don’t do it! You’re already spread too thin!” I try to listen.
    Great post, Laura!

  15. Great post, Laura! Saying no is such a hard thing at times. But you’re right that if it’s never said we’ll end up running ourselves into the ground.

    I had no idea you were a psychiatrist, how cool!

  16. Linda Gray says:

    Love this post. The best advice I ever got on this subject was, essentially, to be prepared. To think through how I felt about something in advance, and know what was right for me with regard to it. Then, when I got challenged with the request/demand/expectation/temptation related to the subject matter, I’d know what the right answer for me was. It worked!

    Thanks for another great post.

  17. Thank you for another great post, Laura.

    I try not to get overwhelmed. I react like a cornered rat. I bite. I try to fix it before it gets to that point. Prevention is worth a pound of cure. I don’t want to be known as a biter.

    What do I do to disentangle? I recognize the symptoms and get off the treadmill somehow, some way, fast. I will retreat to a place of prayer and meditation to find out what to eliminate and what to keep.

    Sometimes I need only to get away and chill out. Sometimes is just a mood of mine that has become an attitude that needs an adjustment.

  18. Oh boy you captured the problem so well ” I lose the desire to keep up. I retreat to accomplishing the bare minimum. Then I beat myself up for not getting enough done.”

    Is knowing your own “no” sort of like running an activity through a priority checklist – and if it gets 2 checks out of 3, do it, but if it gets only 1 check out of 3, don’t? That’s sort of what I’ve tried doing lately to balance everything.

    I remember one of the things that jumped out me when I was learning about teaching kids to say no to drugs/alcohol is that its most successful when the kids role play it. I thought that was really interesting. They can “know” – but until they’ve practicing saying “no” – the lesson may not stick! I think this is almost as true with adults too. (Margo, from your crusader group)

  19. Danyelle says:

    Saying no can be so hard, but I’m getting better. Part of it is realizing that people are a lot more understanding than we think, and part of it is feeling that I’d rather disappoint with a ‘no’ than disappoint by not keeping my word. Great post!

  20. I need to know my no. I’m terrible at saying no, and later regretting it. But much has to do with family than with my professional life.

    I hear you about public speaking. Teaching students, especially ones I know, isn’t so bad. Everything else is stressful.

  21. Abby Annis says:

    Thanks for this reminder! I’m terrible about saying no. I always agree to way too much, get totally overwhelmed and then I just want to crawl into a hole and hide from the world.

    Great post! I think I’m going to post Know you “No” over my computer monitor so I don’t forget. 🙂

  22. roguemutt says:

    People are going to do what they do.

  23. Donna Hole says:

    I have the worst trouble saying NO to being a beta reader or critiquer. I’m flattered that anyone would ask for my feedback; and I really enjoy reading for and helping out aspiring writers. I~not so secretly~ enjoy the task.

    But I get myself overwhelmed with writing obligations sometimes. Its the procrastinator in me – or self sabotager 🙂

    and I prefer Ruffles chips to chocolate, thanks. The concept is the same though (lol)


  24. Laura! Great post! You’re SO right. It boils down to integrity and how we apply it–even to ourselves. When no one is looking, and we say yes, no one knows or cares and we hurt for it. My friend Ali Cross said one time that every yes to someone else is a no to me. Wow, obvious, but simple, right?


    ♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

  25. Madeleine says:

    Sounds like great advice, though sometimes it’s impossible to say ‘No’ ‘cos there’s no-one else to take the reigns. :O)

  26. Akoss says:

    um… I’m still learning to know my “no”, but I’m confident I will get there someday. This year so far had been a challenge because I’ve decided to test my limits, writing wise and I burned up in Jan and Feb. I’m testing March as a “rest” month. I don’t know how well that will work. lol
    Thanks for sharing this experience.

  27. Talli Roland says:

    I have a much better idea these days, but I still tend to over-commit. Thanks for the great post!

  28. Marieke says:

    Have you been inside my head this past week?! 0_o Such a true post, such great timing. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s