“No” is a complete sentence.

“No, thank you” is a polite complete sentence.

I read this in a book this week and I thought about how often we just let no be enough.

The book went on to talk about how we’re in a difficult position in modern society. We’ve been taught to be both generous, and self-sufficient.

I was listening to this as I walked down the road and literally stopped and said, “oh fuck, yeah, that’s ridiculous”.

If we’re all trying to help everyone else, and nobody is asking for help. Then we’re all helplessly driving ourselves toward burnout.

This all feeds into my request the last two weeks to look at what you’re doing and avoiding. You may be helping someone that hasn’t shown any sign of gratitude, and avoided telling them, “hold on a minute, you’re wasting my time/not appreciating my time/taking me for granted/not giving anything back in return”.

Get on with the difficult conversation. Say “no” to their next request.

It doesn’t need to be as blunt as a pure no, you can have a conversation and explain why, if you deem it necessary. But at the end of the day, do you want to keep adding to your risk of ill health and burnout?

Saying no can be very difficult. I know because I’m typically female and British about it. I’m polite and overly helpful. How do you think I got into working in the charity sector and then coaching? I like to help people.

Why not spend a week (or a month) saying no to everything? You can always go back later and take up the opportunity if you realise you want to - but sometimes by saying no and having the space you can learn the things you actually want.

This is a helpful way to realise that actually, your friends won’t hate you if you say no to dinner on a weekday, in fact, they may like you more because they can chill out.

If you have a considerate boss, they may realise that actually you need more support and have reached capacity. With the boss, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a direct no if that makes you feel uncomfortable, but a “can we please review the priorities and restructure my workload if this is a new priority, as I do not currently have space to accommodate it”. It’s a ‘no’, but it’s also a ‘not everything’.

Not everything can be urgent and top priority, if it is, then it can’t all be done by the same person. If it is, ultimately, you’ll be delivering a load of shit.

So, what are you saying “no” to today, tomorrow and next week?

What does this have to do with nutrition and exercise?

If you are so overloaded with things you've said yes to, that you should've said no to. How are you going to prioritise your own health and needs? No wonder you can't sustain the simplest changes, you're so strung out helping everyone else.

There's also the impact on your hormones, as stress builds you find it harder to get a good night sleep, to eat healthy meals, or get to the gym because you're tired. You also want more processed foods to satisfy cravings instead of the healthy stuff in your fridge. You may start to notice more bloating, digestive issues, water retention, waking in the night - these are all good indicators that your body is having a difficult time handling stressors.

So I'll ask again. What are you saying no to, to make space for yourself?

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