Supporting Children, Youth, and Families in Greater Vancouver since 1990

self care

Self-Care: Giving Yourself Permission to Say No

Managing stress during uncertain and unprecedented times can be as simple as giving yourself permission to say no.

Self-care has become the buzz word of younger new-world generations navigating the wake of their boomer parents and grandparents. For many, self-care means taking time out for a pleasurable, relaxing activity. It might mean spending more time with family or friends, or spending time in nature. But self-care can also be achieved by giving yourself permission to say no in the face of demands that you find harder to meet as you continue to navigate the myriad uncertainties of a pandemic world.

The Birth of No

I recently watched the Pearl Jam documentary Twenty where guitarist Stone Gossard shared the band’s story of a hard-earned lesson that he aptly titled “the birth of no.” It occurred as the young rock stars were at the apex of their careers. He describes how the band undertook an uneasy risk by standing up to recording executives and others in the industry who insisted they maintain an exhausting schedule of touring and performing that began to take too great toll on each of them, both mentally and physically.

The “birth of no” for Pearl Jam marked a kind of coming-of-age milestone that signaled to industry executives that these young rockers intended to take back control of their lives and set a limit on the constant demands to enable a more sustainable lifestyle and work ethic. It also signaled that the band members would continue to assert a boundary on requests that fell outside of what they really valued: making music that inspired fans and made their own lives more meaningful and connected.

This rock star inspired lesson is helpful in times when many of us feel especially taxed by the adjustment to pandemic life as we continue to meet expectations of work and family, make deadlines, pay mortgages, raise children and strive to keep our heads above the waterline. The next time you feel overwhelmed or generally harassed by life’s incessant demands, take a cue from one of the world’s greatest rock bands – experience your own “birth of no”and notice what happens next.  Your mental health is worth it!


Maureen Manning is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) at Hollyburn Family Services. She has worked with families for over 15 years and has provided therapy for individuals, couples, youth and families in public health clinics, hospice/palliative care, private practice and family service agencies.  She has trained in Family Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT).