You missed a muscle.
To which muscle do you think I am referring?
I will give you a hint: it is the one we tend to feel most guilty exercising.
Nope, not that one.
No, that’s not the one I am talking about either.
You’re getting warmer…
That’s it; that’s the one! Strengthening your ‘no’ muscle is one of the most important exercises you can do, particularly as we live in this curious COVID-era.
During these quarantine times, it might seem less important to say ‘no’ to things because allegedly we now have “all this time” back in our day.
Here is a little acknowledged fact about the impact of being home during a global crisis: our capacity to produce, perform and engage at our usual level will inevitably look different, and will fluctuate day-to-day.
If you were able to power through your to-do list before 2 p.m. consistently pre-COVID and now you struggle to make it to your home desk on time for your first of many virtual meetings of the day, that is normal.
If you are not usually someone who has a strong morning or nighttime routine and were hoping to infuse some healthy habits into your day to build one, but are struggling to stick to it, that is also normal.
If you are typically someone who loves to engage with your friends, family and colleagues all the time but find yourself dreading your next virtual gathering, that is normal too.
We are home-bound and have somehow convinced ourselves and those around us that we have copious amounts of free-time we must spend productively and/or plan out. I’ve heard students, colleagues, family and friends alike talk about how exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out they feel from engaging in countless hours of virtual classes, meetings, webinars, ceremonies, game nights, Netflix parties and Hulu Happy Hours.
Having the time to do something and the capacity to do something are two completely different things. And if you do not have both, you may find it helpful to practice the art of saying ‘no’ to preserve your energy and honor your boundaries.
Here are some ways to exercise your ‘no’ muscle: