Why boundaries and saying no can reduce your anxiety
Saying yes means more anxiety.
What if saying yes to good things, means saying no to the best things? Lysa Terkeurst addressed this beautifully in her book “The Best Yes,” but when I read it I could barely get the kids to preschool. This seemed like a far-fetched and unrealistic problem, in fact, a privilege to have a “problem” like this.
All too often we are faced with many wonderful things to say yes to, but at the end of the day, we feel depleted and disappointed. Somehow everything we are doing is great, but it isn’t what the true desire of our heart is. If we’re honest it’s the best thing at the moment. It’s admittedly short-sighted thinking.
Why saying no can reduce your anxiety and depression.
Over the last nine months, I have been presented with more opportunities than I can count. Opportunities to grow my faith, grow deeper in my friendships, serve at my church and my sons’ school, the list is endless. Coming fresh off of a season of depletion and isolation, a season of too many good things to choose from was a welcomed problem. I felt like a kid in an ice cream shop trying to choose only five toppings. To be able to say yes to these things, to even be asked to be a part of these things, was a reminder to me that I’m in a season of wellness. Dare I even say maybe the longest and strongest season of wellness I can ever remember.
Why being well doesn't mean fewer boundaries.
Being well has meant my capacity is much larger. I’m able to do more and it no longer causes me anxiety or stress. At the end of this school year, I walked away noticing two very distinct things. One I was busier than I wanted to be and two I wasn’t chasing after my heart’s desire. I was so excited to have a larger capacity that I didn't know how to discern what exactly I wanted to do. A privilege more than a problem. If you are going through a similar season of wellness with a large capacity, I ask you to stop and celebrate it. Celebrate your healing, remember how far you have come and thank God for giving you this time of wealth. A wealth of capacity.
Don't confuse calling and capacity.
BUT just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Where is the space to pursue the calling God has put on your heart? In order to pursue the desire God has placed on your heart, you just might have to say no to really great things. This is a hard pill to swallow. I think it’s easy to put boundaries in place when it’s something that is toxic, or hard or you need distance from. It’s not easy to say no, to things that are awesome, wonderful, flattering or for that matter just good old plain fun. ( If you struggle with putting boundaries in place or don't know when the book "Boundaries" is a great read and full of suggestions.)
Say yes to God and your mental health.
As this school year came to a close, I realized that I didn’t say yes to God as often as I should. I said yes to volunteering, fun dinners, educational seminars and spent countless hours developing friendships at my son’s school. I didn’t realize that in order to pursue my calling to write, I would have to prioritize my time and say yes to the desires of my heart and no to countless requests along the way.
Can I tell you that on the days I spent at my computer writing my anxiety was lower? Please know I'm not saying that pursuing the calling that God has placed on your heart will quell and cure all of your anxiety, but you will find peace in being obedient to God. Sometimes all our yes', are preventing us from pursuing our calling which causes angst in our heart. Angst, because something is amiss. A battle of the flesh and the spirit. When I write I actually felt that I had accomplished something, and there was a peace in my heart that only God can give. A peace that I wasn’t experiencing in all the business of yes. Fun, but no peace. How quickly I had traded fun for peace, just because I could.
So WHEN (keyword, WHEN, that means you are going to do it), you have to tell your friends no or turn down a great opportunity remember who you are saying yes to. You are saying yes to Jesus first, and yourself second. You are creating the space to not only pursue your calling but keep your mental health in check along the way.
Your fellow warrior,
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 NLT