Thursday 23 January 2020

How to stop saying 'yes' and start saying 'no'

Although there are times when saying yes is the right option and it can be to our advantage, for example, if we are hoping for a promotion at work or a pay rise, there are also times when we should say no for the sake of our mental health and wellbeing.

Perhaps you’re already overworked and you’ve been asked to take on an extra workload, or maybe you’ve been asked to work late to help with an assignment. Whatever the reason, if saying yes is causing you stress and making you resentful, then it’s probably time to learn to say no.

Ongoing negative thoughts and feelings can put a great amount of pressure on our mind and body and will eventually take their toll, resulting in physical side effects such as headaches, heart palpitations and nausea. If these symptoms are left untreated, you are putting yourself at greater risk of heart disease, ulcers and depression.

Why do we find it so difficult to say no?

There are many reasons why we might find it hard to say no:

  • Fear of rejection
  • We don’t want to appear rude, unkind or selfish
  • We don’t want to upset or make people angry
  • We don’t want to cause an argument
  • We’re afraid of losing our job

Steve Peters, author of The Chimp Paradox, rationalises our inner emotions and explains why we make hasty decisions. If you struggle with saying no and suffer from anxiety and stress because of it, this book can help you gain a clearer perspective on your thoughts and emotions and it offers ways to become more confident and assertive.

Things to remember when saying no

  • It doesn’t make you a bad person
  • You’re not responsible for other people’s reactions
  • Try not to worry about what people think
  • Value yourself 
  • Remember how much stress and resentment saying yes has caused you in the past
  • You are within your rights to say no
  • What do you gain from saying yes? Does the positive outweigh the negative?

How can we learn to say no confidently?

It’s always tempting to begin with “I’m sorry but…” and to rustle up a tangled web of lies, however, this can make saying no even more difficult. You can be direct and confident without appearing rude and even though it might feel awkward and uncomfortable to begin with, the more you practise, the easier it will become.

Practise saying the words out loud to yourself or to a friend, making sure you remain polite yet self-assured at the same time. You could try something along the lines of; “I appreciate you asking me to help with the project, but I already have plans for that evening”.

If you feel that saying yes on this particular occasion would benefit you, maybe suggest a different time when it’s more convenient for you; “I would love to help but Tuesday isn’t good for me. Would Thursday be an option instead?”.

When we’re asked to do something that we don’t want to do, we might feel under pressure to say we’ll think about it, but this will only prolong the worry and anxiety. Imagine all the positive feelings you’ll experience once you have said no: self-confidence, empowerment, freedom and relief.

Remember that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time and by putting ourselves first and not spreading ourselves too thinly, we are able to focus better on the tasks we do say yes to and we’ll be less susceptible to negative thoughts and emotions.

Friday 10 January 2020

How to pick yourself up when your job is dragging you down

Owing to the fact that we spend so much time at work, it’s inevitable there will be times when our job gets on top of us. Even if you are fortunate enough to love your job, there’ll be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed or lacking in motivation. Although this isn’t uncommon, it can put a lot of pressure on our mental and physical wellbeing.

Long work hours, disagreements with colleagues, job insecurity and a heavy workload can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, sleep problems and lethargy. So, what can we do to alleviate angst and stress and get ourselves back on track when our job is dragging us down?

Stay motivated

Once you start to lose motivation at work, it will not only affect the way you think but also your actions. Perhaps you no longer feel the urgency to get to work on time, or maybe the highlight of your day is emptying the contents of the vending machine and taking more coffee breaks than usual. But there is a way back from this apathetic attitude…


  • Prepare a healthy lunch and snacks the night before. Try to eat nuts, salad, chicken, pulses and other protein-rich foods that will boost your energy and keep you alert.
  • Replace coffee with water or a vitamin-rich smoothie. This will keep you hydrated and help focus your mind.
  • Get up half an hour earlier so that you aren’t rushing around and have plenty of time to eat breakfast.
  • Get your clothes ready the night before and choose something that’s comfortable but also makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Take a full lunch break at work to help you re-energise. A short walk outside in the fresh air will also give you an energy boost and a daily dose of vitamin D. 

Don’t dwell on things

It may seem easier said than done to not dwell on misdemeanours in the workplace, especially when we fear our job may be at risk. But we need to remember that we are only human and mistakes do happen. When we overthink a situation, we can put a lot of pressure on our mental wellbeing, which can lead to stress and anxiety.


  • When we’re accountable for our actions, people are more likely to understand and forgive any mistakes we make. Burying your head or shifting the blame onto someone else will only make the situation worse and cause people to lose trust in you. 
  • If something's playing on your mind and causing you distress, speak to someone about it so you can gain a clearer perspective and act towards resolving the situation.
  • Take up a hobby or sport outside of work to focus your mind on something positive.
  • Remember each day is a new start.

Stop complaining

If you find yourself constantly complaining about the same things, it’s likely you need to take action. Negative thoughts are not only bad for our mental health, they can impact on our physical wellbeing, too.


  • Recognise recurring concerns and decide if it’s something you can improve or change. If it is, then make a list of steps you can take to make those changes.
  • Start looking for the positives – what do you enjoy about your job? 
  • Distract your thoughts with things that make you happy and make an effort to do more of them.
  • Speak with your boss about anything you find particularly stressful and find ways you could overcome this.

According to research undertaken by Mind, work is the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives so it’s vital that we find ways to be happier in our jobs.

Try to remember we always have a choice to make changes and although it may seem daunting to begin with, once you start to take action, you’ll feel more motivated and able to face challenges with a more positive attitude.