As we come into the silly season at the end of the year, it is common to feel tired, even burnt out. As we all rush through the end of the year with never ending to-do lists and events on every weekend, it makes sense we are all exhausted! But what if you could change this? With one simple word.
Confronting, isn’t it? We are designed to look after the pack, and put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own, even if it is to our own detriment. We get a big neurological reward from helping our peers; it causes a surge of rewarding happy hormones in our brain when we help and give to others. It is not the same when we make time to look after ourselves, often we feel guilty or selfish for putting ourselves ahead of others. Or we might feel like it will create conflict if we say no, so we agree, to go with the path of least resistance.
So this month, we are asking you to be selfish and put the guilt aside, and take time to look after yourself before others. At this time of the year, it can make a big difference, and we would like to challenge you to see what the end of the year could look like if you are not exhausted and scrambling for the finish line at New Year’s Eve.
How to say ‘no’
It can be very difficult to say no. Often we feel obligated, or are paying back a favour, or we can’t think of an excuse quick enough! I am here to tell you, there is no excuse needed. Everyone can understand if you say no, they are probably wishing they said no too!. Honesty is the best policy in this situation. No, I don’t have the time. No, that is not a good idea for me to take on. No, I have other priorities.
The key is to be firm in turning the other person’s request down. Don’t say, ‘I can’t help out right now’, because this creates a time in the future where you might be able to contribute. Be assertive, but polite.
Some people may be a bit frustrated by a refusal, and that is ok, it says a lot more about them than you! But if you feel like you need to explain, you can take the time to say that you are trying to look after yourself and put your energy towards things you really enjoy. Or that you don’t think you could put in the time and effort required to do a good job.
It will feel awkward the first few times, and yes, you will feel a bit guilty and selfish at the time, remember, this is a hardwired response. Just focus on the end goal behind saying no, whether it is spending more time with your family, getting more sleep, or just not being exhausted and strung out!
You can’t pour from an empty cup
Now that you have said no, it is time to look after yourself. This will look different for everyone, but you can make the extra time you now have work for you. Do whatever it is that fills your cup and restores your energy. Have a sleep in, go out for a girl’s night, get a massage, have a weekend away with your partner or by yourself, put the computer away and chill on the couch instead of working.
‘Self care’ is a bit of a cliched concept, but it is increasingly important in our ‘always on’ society. Giving yourself time to switch off, turn inwards and recharge is difficult, but essential. Saying no is the first step towards this. By decreasing your commitments, you can give yourself the gift of time. Time to look after yourself.
Dr Bridget Rodoni, Chiropractor
Bridget has been a practising chiropractor in Ballarat, Victoria for more than 7 years. She has a special interest in headache and migraine, and helping mums to be their best by looking after themselves. When she is not working with patients, she is referee to her two young boys.
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