I hate saying no. One of my biggest flaws is I tend to overcommit and burn myself out for the sake of other people. This year, I have finally accepted that I can say no to commitments and I promise you can, too.
My first "no" of the year was, well, writing. I had to take almost a full three months off of writing for Odyssey and put a pause on the blog I have been creating. This seems so small compared to dropping a class or cutting back hours at a job, but removing something that took up five hours of my week had a large impact on my mental health.
The second big thing I have learned is saying no when coworkers need shifts taken. I have always lived under the impression that if you take peoples shifts when they need them covered then people will return the favor. Obviously, this is not true or I would not be saying no when my coworkers ask for me to cover for them.
This sounds hateful as I type it, but hear me out. I do not work a lot of hours as it is and that is because I sit in class for 18 hours a week and take an online class while running a student organization and being very active in my Christian sorority. On top of that, I constantly tried to pick up everyone's shift at work, but when I got sick from the amount of stress I was under, no one was there to help me.
I finally learned to say no to the people I work with and it has improved my health tremendously because I don't have the constant fear of letting people down.
Those are the two pretty big ways I had to reshape my life this semester to be successful and keep my health in check. Now I know what you are thinking, "I am totally OK, I don't need to cut anything out and I would not even know what to take a break from." Here is my response to that, if you are constantly sick, having trouble sleeping, have weird anxiety dreams (I have them too they exist it is not just you) or feel this overall sense that you are drowning and cannot let go, say no to something.
First, think about what you can cut out right off the bat. This could be a weekly dinner date by switching it to monthly or a daily writing column that is not your official job by giving yourself a longer deadline. It's the simple things that cause the biggest amount of relief. Just give yourself extra time to breathe.
Second, think about tasks you pick up that are not necessarily your responsibility or could allocate to other people. If you are cleaning your house three times a week and have roommates ask them for help! If you are like me and pick up a lot of extra work shifts try to pick up one or two less a week. I promise it will feel wrong at first, maybe even unnatural, but you will thank yourself later. You can do it.
I believe in you. I am praying for you. I am proud of you.
Take a deep breath and say no!