Kristen Bryant-Thinking In A Lala College Sweatshirt

How Saying "No" Is Healthy

I became comfortable overextending myself: going out or having people over when I was exhausted, being the first to volunteer to cover someone's shift, taking on the extra work in the group project, or absorbing everyone’s problems as my own. My availability to help others and be there for them became my entire identity. I was my second or third priority. Some days, I was even my twelfth priority. 

My personality, zodiac sign (Cancer), enneagram (type 2), nature, and job all identify me as a helper. Being there for others and achieving kept me going, but it’s easy to get lost in a good thing. 



There was a physical toll to doing it all. My skin, that I had spent years taking medication for and countless dermatologist appointments to remedy, started breaking out. I quit going to the gym and eating healthy. My room became messy, and I grew apathetic towards taking care of my stuff. I was not getting enough sleep and was paying less attention in class because of it.

These physical effects only amplified what was going on internally. I was pouring myself into planning events, being a shoulder to cry, and fixing the problems in other people's lives. There was all this stress stacking up in me with no outlet. In my case, I was giving so much to things and people outside of myself just so I could avoid what was really going on inside.​

I burned out, hard.

I think saying “yes” to everything was so easy for the same reason it’s harmful; being there for everyone else leaves less time for yourself. You can put up a front that everything is okay to the rest of the world, if you’re successfully juggling a gazillion tasks at once. Doing it all was a way to avoid what was actually going on. When you take it too far, you can end up becoming a shell of yourself. My problems didn’t go away; they grew because I neglected to take care of myself. 

I still struggle with balancing “yes” and “no.” I try to have reminders for myself, like quotes about self-care hanging up in my room or following Instagram accounts that focus on mental health. As much as I want to be there for others and do it all, I have to be there for myself. It can be daunting to check in on yourself, especially when you know that your mental health isn’t all that great at the moment. But you don’t want to end up resenting the qualities that make you, you or sinking further into a negative head space. Don’t be afraid to reclaim your time. You owe it to yourself.

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