Set Boundaries

Stress Relief Tool – Set Boundaries

One solution to your stress is to learn how to say “no” to requests on your time.

It’s happened to us all at one time or another. We say “yes” to every request to look like the good employee, friend, volunteer, etc., and then we stress over how we don’t have time to do all the things we committed to. This is especially true when it comes to requests from the person we report to at work.

Years ago, I coauthored a book that provided tips and strategies to help organizations recruit and retain technical professionals. What we found was that no matter what perks the organization offered their employees, the number-one reason people left was their relationship with their manager.1

It’s easy to blame our boss, employer, clients, or customers for our work-life balance getting out of whack, but it’s not their fault. The reality is: no matter how demanding others are or how excessive their expectations may be, we’re in charge of our own lives. We choose what to accept. If we’re overworked by our employer, it’s often because we’ve allowed it to get to that point; we didn’t set proper boundaries.2

To practice and get confident with this technique, try the following. Think about a time when a request was made of you that caused you stress. Replay that event in the following way: pause before answering the request and compare it to what you already have on your plate. If it is not as important and/or is something you do not want to do, kindly decline the request. If an explanation is necessary, mention that their request will delay other activities on your list of responsibilities. If it is your supervisor who has made the request, ask that person to select something else from your list of responsibilities that can be delayed if you attend to this request.

Ultimately, the solution is to learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. Just remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do or really need to do.


  1. Treadwell, D. and Alexander, P. – Money Isn’t All That Matters
  2. Spector, J. – How I Stopped Working So Much And What I Learned From Doing So

Posted by Professor Pete Alexander

A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.

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