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“I Can’t Take on Any More Responsibilities "How to Set Boundaries and Say “No” During the Holidays

During the holidays, it’s important to be aware of our time and the commitments we make. Understanding and learning to set boundaries can help us do this. One tool or technique in working on our boundaries is to have examples of what to say when someone asks us to do something we don’t want to do. I came across the list below on Pinterest and thought it would be great for those of us that are working on creating boundaries. I hope this list is helpful as you work on prioritizing yourself and your needs with the many demands on your time.

Three things to be aware of in setting boundaries:

When asked to do something, if you feel tension and/or resentment rising in your body and mind, it’s important to think about where that is coming from. Why don’t you want to do this? Pause and recognize what your body is telling you. When you understand what that is, then honor that feeling and realize this is something you may need to say “no” to. This is a way to value and honor yourself. This is not selfish, it’s self-care.

Another way of honoring our needs and creating boundaries is by setting (and keeping!) appointments with ourselves. It’s much easier to value the time we’ve set aside for others as more important than the time we’ve set for ourselves. Learning to value ourselves and our time is like building a muscle. It will feel foreign and even hurt the first few times we do it, but with repeated practice, it will get easier.

We don’t need to give excuses for why we will not agree to the other person’s request. Our “no” is good enough. If someone pressures us for an excuse, maybe we need to examine if this is a good relationship for us. Relationships in which we feel pressure to do something at the expense of our own needs are not healthy. Healthy relationships are about mutual respect, not about pressure or trying to make the other feel guilty.

Here's the list:

No thanks, I have another….

Unfortunately, it’s not a good time.

I’d love to – but I can’t.

No thanks, I won’t be able to make it.

I’m sorry, I’m busy.

I’m already booked.

That’s not going to work for me.

Sound fun, but I’m not available.

I just don’t have that to give right now.

I’m not able to commit to that right now.

It is not a good idea for me.

I can’t take on any more responsibilities.

My body says yes, but my heart says no.


Maybe another time.

I am not accepting anything else at this time.

I appreciate the offer, but…..

I’m not really into it, but thanks for asking.

I’d rather not, thanks.

From this list, you can choose 2 to 4 (or more) options that speak to you. Practice these. Think about situations that you may need to use them.

Lastly, be gentle with yourself. You probably won’t do this perfectly and that’s ok. You’re human. If you are not used to setting boundaries with other people, it will be hard at first. And if people expect you to say “yes” to most requests, there will probably be pushback. It may get worse before it gets better. But stick with it. Setting and maintaining boundaries is good not only for you, but for those you care about.

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