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Amira McLaughlin

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There are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. Without proper boundaries, you can find yourself overcommitted, overworked, and burned out. Learning to say no when you need rest is a healthy way to restore your energy and keep from going over the edge. 

Setting boundaries can be hard under ideal situations. Setting boundaries when you need rest can be even harder. When we are tired, our emotions are heightened and we can take things very personally and react to people in ways that aren’t ideal. It’s best to set boundaries before you become over-emotional. 

Here are some simple tips for setting boundaries and saying no when you need rest.

Tip #1: Use your voicemail. It’s perfectly all right to screen your calls when you are maxed out. Letting non-essential calls go to voicemail allows you to keep focused at the moment on what matters most, and you can review the voicemail before you call back. After you know what the caller is looking for, you can make a plan to set firm boundaries if you need to set a limit.  

Tip #2: Create a standard no response. It can be hard to come up with a guilt-free reason to say no when you are too tired. It’s best to have some pat reasons that you can easily use when you don’t have the time or energy to get creative. Phrases like, “My week is already booked up” or, “My spouse and I have agreed not to make any outside commitments this week” can be easy fallback answers when you need to set a boundary.

Tip #3: Blame it on someone else. There’s no shame in deflecting responsibility when you need a break. If you don’t have the best excuse for setting a boundary, play to the it’s-someone-else’s-fault card. Whether your kids need you, your spouse needs you, your sick mom, or your cat, sometimes it is perfectly fine to pass the buck to buy yourself some space.  

There’s never enough time to do all the things you’d like to and there’s rarely an end to the list of things people would love you to help with. Setting boundaries and saying no when you are too tired is the healthy choice. Putting your rest at the top of the priority list isn’t selfish – it’s smart!

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