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Caregivers Need To Learn To Say No

Do you find it hard to say “no”? Many caregivers are in the position of not only caring for their growing family, but working and also taking care of their aging parents. When you’re in that situation you’re being pulled in many directions which can stretch a person to their limits!

How can you regain control of your life? Just say no! It is not as easy as it sounds. Someone has to do the work and care for everyone, right?  That’s often what we tell ourselves so if saying no means that some tasks have to wait a bit longer to complete, you need to learn to let it go.  If saying no means you have to reach out and ask for help, then you should do just that. In many cases, your friends and family may not even be aware of the toll that caring for aging loved ones is taking. They may simply be oblivious to what is required and how much work you’re doing. If you ask for help, they will be happy to pitch in.

How can you learn to say no? There are several strategies, but you first may need to look at the reasons you typically say yes and they could include:

  • Because you’re a people pleaser
  • You don’t want people to think you don’t care
  • You don’t want to be thought of as rude
  • You like to control things and saying no means that someone else has control

If one of those reasons describes you, you probably already know that it can be a struggle to change.  Here are some ways to, and reasons for, saying no:

  • Frankly, you have a life, too. You need to take care of yourself in order to be a happy, healthy human.
  • You need to address the stress in your life. Stress can lead to myriad health issues including high blood pressure, weight gain and even cardiac issues.
  • Everyone needs downtime. Whether your downtime involves sitting back and watching your favorite movie or knitting or gardening,  riding a bike or swimming you need to make time to enjoy your hobbies.

How can you gracefully say no? Here are some ways:

  • I’d love to help but I am juggling other priorities right now. Don’t make excuses or offer a list of what your priorities are. If you let the person know your plate is full, hopefully he or she will respect that and perhaps ask you at a later date.
  • I would love to help you out, but… This is a way to say no without completely cutting off the possibility of contact at a later date.
  • Can I think it over and get back to you? You don’t have to provide an answer the minute you are asked to help out. Taking a step back will help you evaluate whether you truly want to say no or perhaps you’re leaning toward a yes if you can look at your other priorities. Make certain you tell the person when you will get back to him or her.

The first few times you say no, it may give you a twinge of guilt. That’s natural, especially if you’re always accustomed to saying yes. Give yourself a break and pat yourself on the back for taking the first step in taking care of yourself!