Give ‘no’ mode a try if you’re feeling crunched |

Give ‘no’ mode a try if you’re feeling crunched

It’s the most powerful word in the English language, or the Spanish language, for that matter. What a remarkable coincidence you say? No, not really. But doesn’t “no” mean “no” and “yes” mean “yes”? Well, no, or perhaps yes… . Confused? Please read on.

Dear Doc,

My kids are back to school and I don’t know which end is up. Between soccer and football, homework and band, friends and the telephone, I don’t know where family time is, let alone the sleep you say we all need. How can I help them fit it all in?

” Not enough time, in Vail

Dear Not Enough Time,

Did you notice that your sign off began with “No”? The word no can be dated back to the 1200s when the Old English word “na,” meaning “never” and “nan,” meaning “none,” gave way to our well-known word “no.” Its meanings are many, but as you are well aware, they signify a contradiction, disagreement, opposition or improbability. It is a power word. Like David who slew Goliath these two little letters can stop an eloquent request, contradict an important statement, and turn the possible to the impossible. It is a word that may be often used, but not one we like to hear. Think of the question “Will you do ___ for me?” If the reply is “no” the speaker has power. When the reply is “yes,” they give the power back.

It is no surprise that no is one of our earliest words. Sure it’s an easy consonant sound to pronounce, but perhaps it is also because as children we hear that word often! Then something happens ” we are taught that saying yes is polite while saying no is not. We quickly learn that people like us when we say yes, but do not like us as much when we say no. For many of us that positive reinforcement makes it hard to ever say no.

A challenge we all face is finding balance in our lives, and an important extension of that is teaching our children to do the same. You know who you are. You sign up for every event that comes your way, volunteer for every function that needs a helping hand and your children play every sport, not to mention participate in each activity offered in a three county area. Weekends are a careful strategic mapping of both time and place to fit it all in and your car knows every back street and shortcut to get there on time.

For all who feel I have just described your life, no can mean yes. It means yes to yourself. In order to stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally, it is important to have selfish time. That is doing something that primarily benefits ones self. It is not sleeping in or catching up on the laundry, but rather doing something for you. As busy as our lives are, the challenge lies not in finding that special thing but in finding the time to do it. The solution of course then is in saying no. No to a party or gathering, no to an invitation or request, even no to lending out a helping hand ” again.

A simple solution is to think about where you are, how your priorities have been set and what time and energy reserves are left in your life. Once your reserves are low and everything else is full, go into no mode. Try it for a week or two, perhaps even a month. Make a commitment to say no to putting anything new on your plate. Re-charge your batteries, take in a few breaths of fresh air and stop and smell the roses. Doing that will set an important example for your children to. With so many choices in their world, the most important lesson might not be which activities to choose, but which ones to leave behind.

Remember, your health is your responsibility. Health is our greatest asset, and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right or questions are left unanswered, don’t wait, call your doctor.

Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a regular column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, CO 81658.

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