By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna
I like coffee. No, I love coffee, so much so that I rarely decline an invitation to meet for coffee.
Except today. Today, I had to say no. And you know what? It was the best thing I did for myself all day.
I blogged recently about being overwhelmed here in Singapore and what you can do about it. One of the points is that we get overscheduled and therefore overwhelmed.
To break that down just a little bit, I think it’s important to learn how to say no to doing things in order to keep control of your mental state. You just can’t do it all. You can’t just be “on” all the time and giving giving giving your time away.
Yes, there are tons of charities here that want expat help. Yes, there are tons of new strangers you meet that you want to become friends with. But taking a little extra time for you–meaning giving less time to other people–can help keep life in check.
So many people say, “I don’t even have a job and yet I am SO busy!” If this is you then maybe it’s time to take the commitment calendar down a notch.
One of my greatest pieces of advice for mental health is to take time for yourself. Be selfish. Read a book. Go to the spa. Get a massage. Take a healthy walk. Swim. Nap. Watch Game Of Thrones. Whatever. Just do it alone and use this time to recharge yourself so you can be awesome some other time. If we never take care of ourselves and are always giving to other people then you really aren’t at your best.
I know with kids it’s hard – even bathroom time becomes sacred when you can close the door for 2 minutes and be alone. Let the helper babysit more. Mommies and Daddies can be more calm if they have some time to relax. So, if you are a partner with kids, give the better half some free time to chill.
The kind of burnout that comes with over-scheduling could be coming from a sense of guilt that you are not doing enough or that if you don’t help then no one else will. You have to let go of using activities as a way to make yourself feel better about your life.
You can do this by prioritizing. A good way to do this is to choose taking part in things that will bring value to your life. If some commitment seems like a chore then it becomes simple: Don’t do it.
This was a while ago, but I quit basketball when I was 15 because I hated it. It was the best decision I ever made and gave me time to devote to my ultimate favorite sport-field hockey, which I ended up playing through college.
When I was in my early days in journalism, I interned at a TV newsroom in Boston. I was killing myself and the people were jerks. After several crappy months, I said, “No more” to that experience and never looked back. In fact, I left the broadcast path for the most part and moved into print journalism, which is where I am today.
These may seem like trivial examples but they set me on the right path for me to focus on my priorities and what made me the best person I could be. I look back (way far back!) and I am so happy I made these decisions to say no.
So take a look at what you’re doing. Ask yourself if you are getting what give. If not, don’t be afraid to say, “No.”
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.