How to deal with stressful demands

November 20, 2015

Just say no to stressful demands. Repeat after me: "No, I cannot serve on the bake sale committee." "No, I do not want to spend every night and weekend driving vast distances to take my child to elite soccer games." Yeah, it sounds simple, but most of us have no clue how to say the "n" word without feeling guilty; and if you're feeling guilty, what's the point? So Susan Newman, PhD, a social psychologist and author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It — and Mean It, provides this handy five-step plan.

How to deal with stressful demands

1. Make a list

Count the number of times you've said "yes" during the past week. Make a list of them. The number will shock you.

2. Track your time

For one week, track how you spend your time every hour and who you're with. You may discover one friend is monopolizing you or one family member is very demanding. If you're managing your time well, however, you'll keep some in reserve for yourself

3. Know your limits

Know your limits. How long can you listen to a friend's sad story again without choking her? How many more PTA meetings can you sit through without screaming

4. It's all about control

Pick one thing a week to cede control of. Maybe it's paying the bills, cutting the grass (does it have to be perfect, or can your 12-year-old do it?), fixing dinner every night (there's some great, healthy takeout available these days).

5. Think about yourself

Decide who is first on your list: your spouse, child, boss. What about yourself?

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