Coping tipsEducational

Boundary setting for better work-life balance and wellbeing: There’s no better word than NO!

By September 20, 2020January 17th, 2022No Comments

Setting realistic and sustainable boundaries with your work is key to ensuring a healthy work-life balance, work satisfaction and preventing mental health issues such as stress and burnout. There are many ways we can set boundaries within our work to promote self-care, balance and a maintainable workload – one is learning to say no. For many, “no” does not come easily.

By nature, health professionals as ‘carers’ want to help and contribute. They are also hard-working and hold high expectations of themselves. These characteristics can get in the way of saying no to requests of them from the workplace, when saying no is best for their self-care and wellbeing.

Being stressed or burnout can also act as barriers to boundary-setting and saying no in the workplace. Ironically, when we are stressed and stretched, we often push ourselves further and take on more – we go into automatic pilot and do do do and find ourselves saying yes, yes, yes…..In part this is the result of stress depleting our resources to be assertive and set boundaries with ourselves and others, and reducing our capacity to make considered decisions in our best interests.

So how do you go about getting better at saying no at work?

First, know your barriers. If you are asked to take on a new task or extra duties or assist with a task outside your usual daily responsibilities, what are the usual reasons your mind gives yourself for NOT saying NO (pardon the double negative!)

  • I’ll let others down
  • They’ll think less of me
  • They’ll think I’m not committed
  • If others can do it I should do it too
  • I should be able to do this
  • They’ll think I’m not capable

Or maybe there are certain people you find it hard to say no to? Perhaps you are more likely to default to yes when you are tired, stretched, stressed?Being aware of these barriers can help break the automatic, habitual reaction of saying yes when we should really say no.

Top Tip: Next, here is a simple tip to help you change that default response: next time you are asked to do something, rather than automatically saying yes, commit yourself to saying “I will give it some thought and get back to you as soon as possible”. This provides you time to consider the request and whether it is feasible for you with respect to your workload and wellbeing, and prepare your response if turning down the request, saying no, is in your best interests.

Set yourself a goal over the next few weeks to monitor and identify your barriers to saying no, and practice deferring giving an answer to a request.

If you are struggling to set boundaries within your work and would like assistance with improving assertiveness and limit-setting, contact us at MINDCHECK HP on or 07 3847 8094 to book an appointment or for more information about our services.