Happy May 1st everyone. As some of you might know, May is Mental Health awareness month. Having mental health issues myself, this month is really important to me and to so many others. I’ll be sharing some gems on my instagram so be sure to follow me there. I will also be dropping some gems here on my blog. Ready?
One of the biggest issues that gravely affected my mental health was my inability to say no. Whether it was work I didn’t want to do or places I didn’t want to go to. For some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to disappoint the person who was asking me to do something for or with them. Years later it’s still a work in progress, but here are some ways I’ve learned to say no.
I would often find myself overbooked, stressed and fatigued because I kept taking on shit I had no business taking on. I was sleeping 2-3 hours a night for weeks at a time. Working on projects that didn’t pay enough and weren’t even worth the physical and mental sacrifice I made. When requests that I cannot take on come in I just say “Unfortunately I’m not available for that.” I don’t say that time, and I don’t list specifics. I’m just not available.
This is a little more direct and seems harsh, but in reality, you’re just being honest. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. No one is going to fall apart because of this. Quite the opposite. They will find whomever they need in order to fulfill whatever task it is that they need to be done. You, on the other hand, will not have a mental breakdown from the stress of being in a position you absolutely don’t want to be in.
As creatives, I find that a lot of my peers accept shitty work and overwhelming circumstances because of the financial gain. If I’m being honest, for me this was the BIGGEST issue. Being an artist who lives in the Tri-State area is expensive and stressful. So sometimes I felt like I just had to say yes to shitty work for a few extra bucks. I have even said yes to things I didn’t know how to do. That bit me in the ass many times. I don’t do that anymore, ever. If I actually cannot do something, I tell the person that I’m not knowledgeable in that area or that I simply cannot.
You may not be super busy, but even if you’re on the verge of feeling overwhelmed, tap out before you tap in. I’m always busy. That’s not a joke or me seeming important. I literally am busy all of the fucking time. The last thing I want to do is accept new work fully knowing that my cup is almost full. For some an overflow can be a blessing. A symbol of triumph and hard work paying off. For others like myself, an overflow is a mess. Messes give me anxiety. My anxiety is often debilitating. Issa whole entire no.
Contrary to popular belief, “No” is a complete sentence. You need to remind yourself that you don’t owe anyone an explanation (unless you actually do and you can use your best judgement for that). You can simply say no. “Hey, you want to come to a party tonight?” You can simply respond with “No,” or “No thank you.” Don’t get crazy with the excuses or lies. Just a simple no will suffice.
I hope this short list helps you as much as it has helped me. Mental health is such an important topic and I’m so happy it’s being talked about more often and openly. Be kind to yourself, and practice saying “no” daily. It’s liberating, kind and honest. You deserve to be that to yourself and others.