How to Say No Politely to Reduce Stress in Your Life

As a natural people pleaser, I hate saying no.

Too many times I’ve said yes to things I hate, things I didn’t have time for, and things that weren’t serving me – just because I hate saying no.

Once I realized that saying no more often meant saying YES to myself, I made it a point to set boundaries in my life.

Do you have a hard time saying no to friends, family or work? Saying no is form of self-care that allows you to set boundaries for yourself. Here are 5 tips to help you say no politely more often.

If you’re always saying yes to everything, you sacrifice the time you have to spend on things that truly matter to you. You may even find that you start to feel resentful for not feeling like you have control over your decisions.

For some odd reason, this need to always be available and to be liked overpowers our need to feel inner peace and be authentically ourselves. It’s obvious that saying yes to everything leaves us feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

The reality is that saying no is an unglamorous but necessary form of self-care that is often overlooked.  Self-care is not just pampering and kicking back, it’s also about setting boundaries, taking your power back, and saying no when you need to.

So how can you learn to say no politely without guilt? Read on to find out!


How to learn to say no politely without guilt


Adjust your mindset

Saying no is a form of self-care. It’s not my favorite part of self-care, but it’s a necessary part. When you think about it as a way of taking care of yourself, the easier it becomes to say no without feeling guilty.

It’s about evaluating your needs and seeing if saying yes to something will serve you and those closest to you. Think about it this way, what you don’t own owns you. Would you rather have your decisions own you or do you want to own them?

The rule that I try to go by now is if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. We often feel like we don’t have a choice when people ask us to do something, but the truth is we do.

Challenge your beliefs around why you think you don’t have choice. Do you think it makes you a bad person? Are you scared of how they will react? Do you think they can’t do it without you? Are you taking on things that aren’t yours? Find the root of your beliefs and really ask yourself if they are 100% true.

Saying no means making more room for things that are important to you. When you say no, think about what you’re saying yes to:

  • To yourself
  • Your boundaries
  • Things that truly matter to you
  • Your mental health
  • Your precious time


Think about how saying no will benefit the relationship

It’s important to understand that saying no to something doesn’t mean saying no to that relationship. If you think that saying no is going to jeopardize that relationship, you’re most likely overthinking it.

Instead of worrying about what the person might think if you say no, focus on how saying no will help the relationship.

For example, let’s say you say yes to a friend gathering when you wanted to say no. You go reluctantly because you feel forced. Once you get there, you feel resentful, uncomfortable, you’re distracted and not fully there.

Your friends start to think that you don’t want to be around them which is not the case at all. If you would’ve said no and saw them at another time that was better for you, it would’ve had a better outcome for both parties.

Sometimes saying no politely is the best thing to do for a relationship.

Do you have a hard time saying no to friends, family or work? Saying no is form of self-care that allows you to set boundaries for yourself. Here are 5 tips to help you say no politely more often.


Give yourself time to think about it

When someone requests something from you, try to buy yourself time to think about it. You can say, “Can you give me some time to think about it so I can check my calendar?” or “I’m not sure if I can, I have to check on some things first.”

If you’re used to saying yes, it’ll give you time to gather your thoughts and make a decision that you’ll be truly at peace with. Even if you know you want to say no right off the bat, it’ll take some pressure off you and help you say no politely.

When thinking about what you want to do, here are some things to ask yourself:

  • What commitments do I have around that time?
  • Does it interfere with my values?
  • If I say yes, is it a hell yes?
  • What are the reasons for saying no?

Read this next: How to Journal for Self-Reflection and Become More In Tune With Yourself


Start with positive wording and keep it short

Be pleasant and keep it short. By starting with a positive statement, it’ll come off more politely.

You can say things like, “I’m flattered you thought of me but I’m overcommitted right now” or “I’d love to but it isn’t doable for me right now.”

It’s easy to want to justify your decision by offering an explanation or an excuse, but that only opens the floodgates for them to try to persuade you.

If you’re being pressured, simply repeat your initial response or say “I wish I could but my schedule is full.” Stand your grand graciously.

If your schedule looks like a whole lot of self-caring at home alone with a hair mask and a glass of wine, that’s a full schedule to me! Remember, no matter what your needs are, they’re important too.


Favor respect over popularity

People pleasers have a tendency to say yes all the time because they want to be liked. They will avoid conflict and disappointing others at all costs, even if it means putting their own needs on the back burner.

No amount of popularity is worth feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s impossible to please everyone in your life.

We weren’t put on this planet to please people – we are here to live our best, most authentic lives. And to do that we have to set boundaries.

When you recognize your worth and start to say no often, in the long run, people will respect you for having boundaries and sticking with them.


If you have a hard time saying no, I’m right there with you. When I remind myself that my needs are important too and that I always have a choice over my decisions, the easier it gets.

Learning to set boundaries and say no to things that don’t serve you is one of the most loving self-care gifts you can give yourself.


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