November is the beginning of the busy holiday season; for many of us, that means taking on and indulging more than we should. More spending, more tasks, and more food can make us feel overwhelmed and unhealthy. Making gifts, hosting dinner parties, receiving guests, and planning children’s activities may seem like the right thing to do, but not when you’re forfeiting necessary sleep and exercise. If you’re feeling the resentment rising, this is a great time to take the NO-vember challenge. It’s important to protect what you value most by learning to say "NO" to excessive busyness.
From now to the end of November, take the "no" challenge to improve your confidence and get healthy. Choose one goal and learn to protect it by simply saying "No." For you this may be saying no to sweets, an extra drink, or hosting a party. Whatever you are struggling with, here are some ways the "no" challenge can help you gain your power back.
1. Write down specific things you are going to say no to. Protecting your boundaries is essential for feeling good about your life. If you need more time to enjoy your family and you’re overwhelmed trying to make cookies for everyone, say "no" to baking dozens of cookies for everyone. Or, if you struggle with overdrinking, write down that you’re going to say "no" to a second glass when offered. Whatever value you want to protect, practice saying no if someone tries to persuade, guilt, or manipulate you.
2. Avoid putting yourself in tempting situations. If you put yourself in groups or activities where you’re surrounded by others who can’t say no, it will be more difficult. If you don’t want extra sweets, tell supportive, assertive friends so they can help remove temptations. Do your part of putting your plate in the dishwasher once the desserts are displayed. If you don’t want to bake all the cookies, agree to making a dozen and stick to that quota. If you always feel the burden of hosting out of town guests for the holidays, let them know up front that you can host one day or be honest and direct about whether you can host at all. If drinking during the holidays is your weakness, then after one drink, put your glass away and socialize without a drink in your hand.
3. Acknowledge that being assertive does not mean you’re rude. Saying no is not a rude behavior. It is being responsible to your boundaries and insightful about what you can and cannot do. Making "I" statements is enough; instead of giving numerous excuses, simply say, "I cannot do that," or, "I do not want that." It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person just because you say no.
4. Remember practice makes perfect. People who have difficulty saying "no" often struggle with wanting to please others. It’s wonderful to want to make others happy, but it’s unhealthy when you’re doing everything for others without taking care of yourself. You cannot expect to change overnight so practice saying no to little things first. Eventually you will begin feeling more confident and aware of where you want to commit your time and energy.
Learning to say no helps minimize anxiety and depression during the holidays, so NO-vember is the perfect time to take the challenge. Begin small, and you’ll be feeling more empowered and committed to whatever goals you say "YES" to in the future. Our purpose in life is felt more intensely when we invest our time in the things that make life most meaningful. Saying no is a start to the process.