Student Wellness

Drop Shadow

Balancing Multiple Demands

Asking for Help

Saying No

Why This Can Be a Challenge

Asking for Help

It is actually a sign of strength to be able to say, “I am not sure how to balance this on my own.” - Never a sign of weakness

One reason asking for help is difficult, is that many people have never been taught how to ask properly.  So we do it poorly, sometimes using guilt or coercion. We may ask the wrong person and we might have felt humiliated asking for help in the past, so we fear doing it in the future.

Tips on asking for help:

  • Identify the problem and ask for help early
  • Pick up on cues — is that an enthusiastic or a reluctant yes?
  • Say thanks when the agreement is struck, when the need has been met and when you next see the person who helped you.

H ave realistic expectations for the kind of help you are seeking
E xpress your needs simply and clearly
L et others know you are there to help them as well
P raise people for their assistance and pat yourself on the back for asking for help

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The Power of Saying No

When someone makes a request, it is always ok to ask for more time to think it over. Remember that "No" is an honorable response. If you say, "Yes," when you want to say, "No," you will feel resentful throughout whatever you agreed to do. If you are saying, "No" to someone whom you would help under different circumstances, use an empathic response to ease the rejection. For example, to your friend who needs you to drive them to the store, you might say, "No Susie, I’m swamped with homework, but I will let you know when I go later this week”

Start your sentence with the word, "No." It's easier to keep the commitment to say, "No" if it's the first word out of your mouth. 

Why say no?  Focus on Quality not Quantity of Obligations

Saying No is not Selfish

When you say no to a new commitment, you are honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you will be able to devote quality time to them.

Always Saying Yes is not Healthy

When you are overcommitted and under too much stress, you are more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick.

Saying Yes Can Cut Others Out

On the other hand, when you say no you open the door for others to step up.

When to say no?

Weigh the Yes-to-Stress Ratio

Is the new activity you are considering a short- or long-term commitment? For example, making a batch of cookies for the school bake sale will take far less time than heading up the school fundraising committee. Do not say yes if it will mean months of added stress. Instead, look for other ways to pitch in.

Take Guilt Out of the Equation

Do not agree to a request you would rather decline because of feelings of guilt or obligation. Doing so will likely lead to additional stress and resentment.

Sleep On It

Before you respond, take a day to think about the request and how it fits in with your current commitments – and if you really want to be a part of the task at hand

How to say no - Focus on what matters

Say No

The word "no" has power. Be careful about using substitute phrases, such as "I'm not sure" or "I don't think I can." These can be interpreted to mean that you might say yes later.

Be Brief

State your reason for refusing the request, but do not go on about it. Avoid elaborate justifications or explanations.

Be Honest

Do not fabricate reasons to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker.

Be Respectful

Many good causes land at your door and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the group's effort ensures that you truly would help if you were available.

Be Ready to Repeat

You may find it necessary to refuse a request several times before the other person accepts your response. Calmly repeat your no, with or without your original rationale.

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Why This Can Be a Challenge

Jar Activity

The jar represents a finite matter in your life such as time

Golf Balls - Represent the most important things

Marbles - The second most important

Sand - The minor tasks in life, which are simple, yet take time, and effort

Water - The mindless tasks that generally provide no meaning such as browsing the internet to pass time

Trial and Error will show that the items must be placed in the Jar according to importance in order for everything to fit. This shows how the smaller items, such as the Sand and Water, are the easiest to fill the jar, but leave no room for the larger items (the significant pieces).

It is easy to waste time on social networking sites, television, and music. Often a few minutes turn into hours without noticing. These items easily distract our attention and provide enjoyment in the short run, but stress in the long run. Keep your priorities in line by spending the most time on the important things and less time on the mindless tasks that often steal time away from what matters most.


Think of your life as a recipe, everyone has their own methods and places emphasis on different activities, these choices (ingredients), is what makes all of us unique. With that said, some choices are challenging and need some support; with the help of resources here on campus, they become manageable.  

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