Your summer of self-care: 9 ways to say no!

I just returned from Ireland and am excited to dive into a creative project I’ll be working on this summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I am also exhausted from the intense emotional roller-coaster I’ve been on for the last six months and know I need time for deep relaxation. So this week I’m sitting with how I want to feel on Labor Day and where to direct my energy over the next 90 days. What’s your intention for this summer?

Perhaps you need to slow down and enjoy expanses of unscheduled time with your family? Or, maybe there is a work or creative project you want to launch or complete by early fall? Do you desire to reconnect with those you love and start living more in the present? Or if you’re exhausted, you may need to pull out your calendar and block out periods for rest and renewal? The summer months can also be a wonderful time to reflect on any course corrections you want to make for the fall.

living intentionally

If you’ve ever had the experience of waking up on Labor Day and realizing your summer was not quite what you had envisioned, you know how key it is to enter this season with purpose. With an intention.

One of the most popular tools from my first best-selling book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, is the Nine Ways to Say No list from Chapter Four on Managing Your Energy, Setting Priorities and Saying No.

We have a finite amount of energy. And our energy–our life force–is PRECIOUS!

In addition to being over-scheduled and overworked, most of us waste a lot of energy through endless hours on screens or engaging in activities that don’t really feed us. One highly effective way to harness your attention and energy, so you can focus on what really matters, is to say “no” to those things that are non-essential and to the “shoulds”–so you can say “yes” to what matters most.

Learning to say “no” is like exercising—the more you practice saying it, the stronger you become. Here’s some helpful language from our global Personal Renewal Groups to support you in mastering this essential skill:

Nine Creative Ways to Say No

1. Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)

2. The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”

3. The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”

4. The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more work/life balance.”

5. The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, but that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”  (Consider hiring a coach to help you get clarity here.)

6. The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”

7. The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”

8. The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.

9. The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”

As you look at the rest of May and consider a new work, family or volunteer project or commitment, remember that while important, it will take away time and valuable energy from your heart’s greatest desire. Pause, reflect on how you want to experience this summer and remember, “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least,” (thank you Goethe).

I encourage you to find some quiet time this week to reflect on what you need during these slower months. Perhaps even scheduling a personal planning retreat? I’d love to hear your summer of self-care intention, share it in the comments section below!


  • Renew and recharge with like-minded women in NC. Join me Sat., June 8th from 1-6 in Brevard, NC (near Asheville) at the beautiful Brevard Yoga Center for our New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Mini Retreat; almost sold out! Learn more . View all retreats here. 
  • Schedule me to plan/facilitate a custom workshop or retreat for your company, team or organization on life balance, resiliency or self-renewal in 2019-2020. I’ve been speaking professionally for 25+ years on work-life balance and managing your energy.  My clients include Fortune 500 companies, national conferences, nonprofits and organizations. Learn more and email me at workshops at reneetrudeau dot com with questions.
  • Find your tribe this summer! Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators  and empower/support women in your community while leading self-care groups/retreats! More here on becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator and joining our inner circle (plus, $100 off training through 5/31 which includes private coaching with me).

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on her background here.

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