At times, life feels like a buffet where you grab everything knowing you won’t be able to eat it all. Have you ever felt that you’ve continued to pile things on your plate because you have trouble saying "no"? This is where your "no-muscle" comes into play. Just like the muscles that you may stretch during your athletic workouts, having a fortified mindset is just as important.
Integral to self care, it is crucial that we take the time to step outside of our hectic schedules and allow ourselves to let in those tiny pauses of fresh air. It’s easy to think we can take on the tasks of school, sports, work, and social life and still be able to say "yes" to whatever else may be thrown our way. However, if we do not allow time for those personal moments it can initiate a cycle of mental distress.
According to Psychology Today, the word "no" is associated with negativity which explains the lack of frequent use. We often feel bad when we want to say "no" either because we don’t have a valid reason or because we don’t want to cause any harm to the person we are denying. The article goes on to state that although we may respect those who we are interacting with, specifically telling them "no" states that “we do not and cannot allow ourselves always to be influenced by them.” This can be hard when we are constantly placed in an environment where external influences seem so central to our development.
When asked if they felt uncomfortable saying "no," most our our SUA community said “sometimes” or “yes.” These were also the same students who said they placed a high value on their mental health. Why is it that we are keen on supporting others but we are unable to compartmentalize time for something we value?
On the other hand, many responses did say that they plotted out time to have resting periods and that they also planned their day accordingly for their sleep and fun activities.
It’s important to budget our time wisely for the things we do have to complete, but it's equally as important to budget time for ourselves even when we have absolutely nothing to complete. Just for clarification, the simple want to say "no" is enough to actually SAY NO. We don’t need to have a reason or feel badly about taking time out for ourselves or avoiding the tasks we don’t have the energy to take on in the moment.
As someone who struggled last year with all of my demands, I learned to accept this through valuing my sleep. It was the only time where I had absolutely nothing to do and thankfully, it was never something I could do wrong. This realization lead me to wanting more of these quiet pauses in my day. I hope that this brings awareness to your own personal limits and I hope to see you all flexing your "no-muscle" when needed!