When I think of the concept of free will, the first thing that comes to mind are my Sims going rogue, forgetting to feed their children and falling asleep on the floor when an empty bed is free. The ability to do whatever you want may feel taxing and overwhelming sometimes. Often, this ability is eclipsed by what we think we should be doing. “No” is one the most powerful words in the English language. Harnessing it and learning how to use it to its full potential has drastically reduced my stress level. I wouldn’t say I’m perfect at saying “no”, but I say it much more often now than I did before for a multitude of reasons.

The Internet is no longer confined to a singular device, or a wall for that matter. I remember racing in from school to check my socials, which I can do wherever. The constant rings, vibrations, notifications, and flashing lights can all become too much. Although I am much busier now than I was a decade ago, I refuse to believe that my life is so complex that I need to be notified of something every second of every day. I have said “no” to notifications from most apps on my phone and computer because it’s not necessary. I found that most of these notifications did not lead to any actions on my part, so they served no purpose to me.

I have said “no” to ringtones, vibrations, and flashing lights, because they unnerve me and disrupt my mind. Let’s be real, as often as we look at our phones, it’s highly unlikely that a call with go unreturned because my ringtone isn’t blaring.

I have said “no” to extraneous emails from companies that I bought that one thing from that one time. If I only buy one bouquet of flowers a year, there is no reason why I should spend time each week deleting an email encouraging me to buy flowers for the no one I have to buy them for.

I have said “no” to engaging with emotionally charged articles and videos at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. There is no reason for me to sacrifice the quality of my rest and well-being because someone I haven’t spoken to in 3 years proclaims that I should read that particular article because they did and think I should to.

There is freedom in the word “no”. There is self-care in the word “no”. There is self-confidence in the word “no”.

I have found that saying “no” allows me to manage stimuli best. At a time where we spend most of our waking hours in front of some form of a screen, it’s important to know your limits and become comfortable with them.

I have a friend that turns off her phone for one day every weekend. While I don’t remember the last time I even turned my phone off, I can see how enriching and rejuvenating it must be to take a break.

She inspired me to ask myself how often I really need to use my phone, check my email, refresh my socials, and respond to messages. It was a lot less often than I originally thought.

I encourage you to find out what your limits are and stick to them. Decide for yourself what you have to read and must watch. If it’s urgent, you’ll know what to do. If it’s not urgent, you’ll no what to do too.

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