Many students say “Yes” to everything and become anxious, stressed out overachievers because they want to excel in their studies, and build a top CV packed full of interesting extracurriculars. Perhaps you find that being busy and having a full schedule gives you affirmation and confidence.
Whatever the reason, having too much on your plate can become unmanageable and quickly lead to burn out. The trick is to find balance and learn to say “No” so that you can have a more manageable schedule.
Learning when to say “No”
These are a few signs that can help you identify when you need to step back and say no, as well as reasons for saying no and alternative actions you can take.
1. The task or activity makes you feel ‘heavy’ and it’s not compulsory
You know that sinking feeling in your gut when you think of something you have to do and really don’t want to do it? Learn to recognise that feeling and listen to it. If an activity is not an essential part of your studies and you don’t absolutely have to take part in order to graduate… and it makes you feel stressed just thinking about it… you can say “No”.
You may be feeling worried about not having lots of activities on your CV and want to do something just to make yourself look good. But if the cost of always saying yes is your serenity and peace of mind, it’s really not worth it.
2. Learn about the consequences of stress
Stress is just stress, right? It’s manageable, right?
Actually, stress is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Long term stress puts a lot of pressure on you, both emotionally and physically. It can make you really sick if you don’t give yourself a break from being busy every now and then.
Stress can lead to depression and anxiety, and other mental health issues. Stress can make you burn out, where your body and mind become so fatigued that you literally can’t do anything. Stress can cause breathing problems, heart problems, sleep problems and damage your immune system (so you are more likely to catch any bug going around).
Learning to cope with stress by creating a more manageable schedule is essential if you want to live a healthy and productive life.
3. Look at your motivations behind overachieving
Maybe you say “Yes” to everything because you want to be seen as motivated and responsible. Maybe you’re fearful of life and your career after university, and want to pack as much experience in to boost your CV. Maybe being an achiever gives you affirmation and validation, that you seek because of low self-confidence.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to find out WHY you struggle to say no. Ask yourself the hard questions and be honest with yourself.
There are many things in life that are beyond your control, but when you do have a choice, discovering your motivation can help you make better decisions.
4. Say “Yes” to self-care
There’s been so much talk about self-love and self-care lately, it’s beginning to feel like a cliche. But self-care is so important to help you cope with stress.
If saying “No” makes you feel like a bit of a failure, or even lazy, remember that when you say “No” to an exhausting and stressful activity actually means you are saying “Yes” to self-care.
And remember – your health and happiness are far more important than the opinions of others, and anything you can put on your CV.