How To Say "No" To Plans When You Want To Prioritize Self-Care, According To Experts

by Julia Guerra

OK guys, let’s own up to this right here, right now. We’re all probably guilty of making and breaking plans shortly after the details have been finalized, and TBH, that’s totally fine and sometimes really freaking necessary. Unfortunately, though, I’m willing to bet that even more of us are guilty of making plans and keeping them out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings. This, my friends, is a major faux-pas. I understand it’s difficult to figure out how to say no to plans without coming off as a total flake, but when you’re just not feeling the social vibes and need a night to chillax and pamper yourself, forcing yourself to go out could potentially do a number on your mental health. It’s 2018, friends. Enough is enough.

While we’re on the subject, you really shouldn’t feel guilty about putting yourself first. Your friends are your friends for a reason. They love you and respect the fact that you have to do you sometimes, even if that means a get-together has to wait until next weekend. If someone in your squad takes offense to this, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate that relationship.

However, there's definitely some semblance of proper etiquette to keep in mind when insisting on a raincheck. Things come up, weeks get busy, and you might feel too drained to function, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the other person's feelings into consideration, too. Breaking plans doesn't have to be risky business; it's all about the delivery of the declination.

So, how do you know when it's justified to cancel plans?

The whole point of setting a date is to spend quality time with the people who matter most. Unfortunately, though, life does happen, and sometimes you have to put yourself first.

And, trust me, I am the queen of justifications. Ask my husband, and he’ll tell you all about my unyielding conscience and how I feel bad about everything (even when I shouldn't or don't have to), so I totally understand if reaching for your phone to cancel plans makes you want to vom. But you're only human, and your feelings are valid, and sometimes, you really do need to put yourself above others.

If you still need reassurance, though, there are a few no-buts-about-it, totally justifiable reasons why it’s OK to cancel plans with a friend or loved one. For instance, say you made plans on Monday to go to happy hour with a few girls from the office on Friday. If the work days spiral into an entire week from hell, you might feel entirely too drained to function come Friday. Passing on these plans to unwind in bed is perfectly acceptable.

Another situation you shouldn't feel guilty about bailing on is any event that forces you to spend outside of your budget and makes you genuinely uncomfortable with the plan as a result. Tell your girls you’re sorry you can’t make it, but you’ll choose the next spot. Remember, hanging out with friends is supposed to be fun. If you aren’t feeling it, trust your gut and opt out.

If you want or need to cancel plans, though, there's a polite way to go about it.

Now that we've established that taking a night, or even an entire weekend for yourself is nothing to be sorry for, let's talk about how to properly go about canceling plans. While you may have gotten away with telling a few little white lies from time to time, experts agree that honesty is the best policy here.

As far as founder and CEO of Girls' Night In Alisha Ramos is concerned, there's no shame in admitting you're reeling for some "me time." She tells Elite Daily that, instead of canceling without an explanation, drop a line or two that explains your thought process — something like, "I've had a busier week than expected and I'm really not feeling going out tonight. Can we raincheck?" "You'd be surprised," Ramos says, "at how understanding people are."

Another great tip Ramos shares is, instead of canceling plans altogether, suggest altering them if you're up for it. "Recommend a more low-key activity, like hosting a girls' night in, rather than going out, if your goal is to recharge and relax for a bit," she tells Elite Daily. By compromising, you're letting your friend know you still want to spend time with them, but you're also respecting yourself enough to recognize your own personal needs.

While it's OK to cancel plans once in a while, it's still important to make time for loved ones.

As an introvert myself, I know how enjoyable it is to stay home with your cat, a shelf full of books to read, and an endless queue of Netflix shows to watch. But, let me tell you, the outside world isn't so scary, and once in a while, you need to change out of your onesie pajamas and go out in public on a Friday night. It's a lot of effort, I know, but you'll be glad you did it when you come in contact with humans who love you as much as you love yourself.

The smartest advice I've ever been given when it comes to establishing a solid hermit-mode-meets-social-butterfly balance is to make plans you actually want to keep. Genius, right?

Practicing therapist and owner of Cratejoy's TheraBox Ting Jiang tells Elite Daily that, chances are, you probably enjoy spending time with your family and friends, but you need to find activities that actually resonate with who you are and what you enjoy.

"Plans will seem a lot less like 'plans' and more like moments of joy when we’re able to be more selective of the activities and people we choose to spend our time with," she explains. "Some weeks will be more busy than others, and some days it’ll be more relaxed. Although we’ll never know all the curve balls life throws at us, making plans we enjoy at the places we love with the people we love will result in less cancelations and more quality time spent with loved ones."

In short, if you need to cancel plans to put your mental health first, that is your right, and no one can fault you for it. Just remember it's important to keep loved ones close and make time for them, as well. Balance is key, but don't be ashamed to admit you need time that's unapologetically yours.