Art by Ally Armstrong
With the semester just beginning, campus is getting back to its normal, bustling self. Students are getting settled back into their routine, and clubs are advertising for new members. A stereotype exists at Pepperdine that all students have to be heavily involved in events and activities.
While it is important to get out and try new things, it is also crucial that students understand the boundaries that keep them mentally and physically healthy. Learning how to say no to people, events and commitments that will cause a lot of stress in the long run is critical to maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
Consider how much time is available outside of class. There are only 24 hours in a day, and while the list of tasks students need to complete may continue to grow, the time they have to do them will not. Students should make sure that enough time is left for themselves in order to take breaks and power through the week more effectively. “By saying no, you open up the space necessary for yes,” wrote Camille Preston in her article “Why saying no gets you ahead,” published Aug. 19, 2014 by Fortune.
Another thing to think about when making a plan or commitment is how the activity impacts one emotionally. Is the activity stressful or only being done to appease others? Take a step back and evaluate the purpose for participating in the event. If this is an activity that will not help a person and makes that person feel stressed, don’t do it.
“Answering with an assertive no instead of a submissive yes can help avoid the helplessness that promotes disease,” wrote Dr. Chris Gilbert in his article “When, Why and How to Say No,” published Aug. 29, 2016 by Psychology Today. He went on to say that those who felt stressed by commitments became more susceptible to illness.
People should also know how to turn down others that have a negative impact on them. To maintain relationships, people sometimes sacrifice what they like for the sake of their friends. Sometimes others take advantage of that— no give and all take, like when a person does everything for a friend while that friend does nothing in return.
A communication theory known as Social Exchange Theory states that “[people] take the benefits and subtract the costs in order to determine how much a relationship is worth,” according to Kendra Cherry’s article “Social Exchange Theory: How social exchange theory influences relationships,” published Feb. 11 by Very Well Mind. Some may think that the time that they invested so much already into the relationship means that it wouldn’t be worth it to drop it, but it will only create more problems later down the line.
Pepperdine students pride themselves on staying busy and loading their schedule with extracurriculars. However, learning to assertively say no is a skill that everyone should learn. Being able to maintain self-set boundaries is important to develop and define students’ personalities and their confidence in themselves. Say yes to maintaining a healthy balance of activities and relationships by saying no to the things that won’t allow people to be their best selves.
Follow the Pepperdine Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic