There’s nothing wrong with being a free spirit — it’s a wonderful way to be, and a excellent way to enjoy life. However, do you ever find yourself overindulging, and following every whim that you come up with? If so, it may be time to take a step back.
Just as saying “no” to others from time to time is a very healthy thing to do, it’s equally important to learn when to say no to yourself. We can be our own best friend, or our own worst enemy, and knowing when to rein ourselves in is critical to staying healthy.
The following are five good reasons to tell yourself “no” now and then:
1. You’ll be more productive
Our minds have a tendency to wander to other things while we are trying to focus on a task. If you catch yourself doing this, it’s smart to tell yourself “no” when it comes to the distractions. If you constantly follow every YouTube video that catches your eye, for example, you’ll never get any work done.
Shut down as many sources of distraction as you can while you are working or focusing on any task. Remind yourself that you can always let your mind wander freely to these fun distractions when the task is done. Until then, make sure you focus. This may help greatly with productivity.
2. You’ll reduce clutter in your life
If you often indulge in buying new things, whether it be clothes or knick-knacks, your closets and home are probably pretty cluttered. Likewise, if you’re constantly taking on too many tasks, appointments or activities, your schedule is probably cluttered as well.
Even if you really want to buy an item, or add an activity to your list that you do not have time for, stop and ask yourself if that item or activity is necessary. Also, ask yourself if it will be beneficial to your life or just add to the clutter. If it’s not necessary, and it isn’t going to benefit you, tell yourself no. Clutter, physical and mental, can be incredibly stressful.
Speaking of stress…
3. You’ll feel less stressed
If you constantly allow yourself to do everything you want to do, you’re likely overbooking yourself in one way or another. Keeping up with your own flights of fancy can mean a great deal of stress: personal, financial and social, to name a few. When you carefully think about everything you do and plan before you do it, you may just succeed in cutting a lot of stress out of your life.
This is important, as chronic stress is very damaging to your health. It is associated with inflammation, weakening the immune system, and serving as a gateway to all sorts of illnesses. Therefore, keeping it under control is key, and saying “no” to yourself now and then is one way to keep stress in check.
4. You’ll be able to discern what’s important from what isn’t
If you don’t take the time to filter through your impulses, you may lose sight of what matters… and what doesn’t. Your head may become a swimming mess of ideas, inclinations and desires, and you may find the important things in your life getting dissolved in the stew. This can lead to a lot of strife and strained relationships — your relationships with those closest to you, and the relationship with yourself.
However, if you take the time to meditate on each of your thoughts before you put them into action, you’ll be able to determine if it’s something worth doing, or something that’s actually distracting you from the important things. This perspective is vital to have so that you don’t lose sight of where you are going.
5. You’ll boost your overall health
Telling yourself “no” when it’s appropriate can boost your health in a number of ways. The most obvious way has to do with diet. If you just let yourself eat all the junk food and processed food you want, your body and mind are going to be brimming with toxic chemicals. However, if you say “no” to your unhealthy cravings, and discipline yourself to stick to whole, natural foods, you’ll be a lot healthier.
Another important aspect of your health is managing your stress level. As mentioned, stress is dangerous, and the more consistently you can keep yourself in a state of zen, the better. An over-cluttered schedule may also mean you are going to bed late in a scramble to finish all it is you set out to do. Remember: sleep is vital to health, as well.
Saying “no” to the non-essentials ensures that you have time to do all that is important and still take good care of yourself.
You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, but it’s important to practice saying “no” to yourself and others when it’s appropriate. Without this self-discipline, life can become stressful, murky and difficult, so be sure you’re prioritizing.
— Tanya Rakhmilevich