Aug 05, 2015


How Saying “No” Can Be a Positive Way to Balance Your Busy Life

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Saying no is a yes to me

I was recently put to the test to see how well I practice what I preach. The past several months brought 16-18 hour days, 7 days a week. I was tackling “rush” jobs at work, only to go home, have dinner, and begin part two of my day, responding to dozens of emails, calls, and texts for a historic first Latin convention I was chairing for families and friends of problem drinkers.

A volunteer junkie since my grammar school days, I really couldn’t say “no” to this convention. It was my mother’s brainchild. Being the good “hija” that I am, I offered to help make this a reality. After all, the purpose is to help our Latin community in the U.S. and in Spanish-speaking countries, and we gave ourselves a year-and-a-half to plan it.

The closer the convention weekend approached, the more challenging it became to maintain balance, my meditation and quiet time, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep and exercise.

Going to bed late and rising for work meant I sacrificed my morning meditation routine. Having to work through lunch also meant I couldn’t go for a quick walk, or take five sitting on the bench staring at the clouds, water, or trees in our work area, or even resting in our “quiet room.”

I did have to say “no” to certain social requests and to other volunteer commitments. By nature, I like to help and to be of assistance, and being more of a “yes” girl, saying “no” often comes with strings of guilt, of not being there for another, and of disappointing someone.

Yet there is wisdom and a positive gain in saying “I can’t at this time.” And that is setting a boundary for my well-being, avoiding extreme exhaustion, and in basic terms, taking care of me.

At the convention, I was pulled in multiple directions, with participants, committee members, and hotel staff needing something from me. While I managed, there were times I delegated, and I made sure I carved out at least five minutes of me time, meditating and resting in stillness.

When I say “no” to people, places, or things that overwhelm or stress me, in essence, I am saying yes to me. If I don’t care for my emotional, physical, and mental health, no one else will.

I’m sure if I asked someone to take that on for me, they might just say “No, that’s on you.”

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Elizabeth Santeramo

Elizabeth Santeramo

Elizabeth most recently blogged on about caring for her father with COPD, who is now on oxygen. A self-help fan since the age of 15, she attributes its teachings to the many blessings in her life, namely, starting over with family and healing. Her work has appeared in several media outlets and she has been featured on English and Spanish TV and radio shows. She is currently writing a book for young adults. A NYC chica, she’s now a Jersey Girl. Her family is from Argentina, Italy, and Spain, so food and passion abound. ¡Si! @lizunga

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