When you're faced with juggling a fast-paced 9 to 5 with a busy social schedule of weddings, baby showers and birthdays, it's all too easy to find yourself resenting the notion of saying yes. But while the idea of saying yes to everything might feel more representative of an over-egged '00s Jim Carrey movie than real life, there's actually some real value in prioritising the 'yay' over the 'nay'.
Whether it's embracing a new hobby that will make your heart happy or relaxing that complicated 60-minute hair routine that leaves you feeling frazzled and unsatisfied, here are six things that are definitely worth giving the green light to.
1. Time alone
Social media can be great - it gives us #OOTD inspo, helps us plan our next holiday and lets us keep in touch with our friends. The downside is that all that tapping and liking has made being truly alone an obsolete art. This constant barrage of information and communication can at times feel a little exhausting, which is why it's a good idea to give yourself the luxury of a physical and mental break from interaction.
The next time you find yourself enjoying some 'me-time', try to avoid getting lost for two hours on Instagram's 'Discover' page or mindlessly trawling your former fling's Facebook profile. Instead, refocus your mind by trying out some basic meditation. Allow yourself two minutes to sit and focus on your breathing, gently pushing out any distracting thoughts to concentrate on the present.
Once you're relaxed, leave your phone in another room for a few hours and spend some guilt-free time doing the things you love, whether that's reading, having a bath, crafting or bingeing on your favourite Netflix series, all by yourself.
2. Natural hair
Saying no to the flat iron and yes to your natural, God-given locks is now officially en vogue. And thankfully, it's easier than ever to embrace your natural hair texture without being left with a frizzy mess.
Charlotte Mensah is an award-winning Afro hair stylist and specialises in natural hair. "More and more women are embracing the wondrous textures of their hair and celebrating its versatility with bodacious 'fros, beautiful braids, tempting twists and luxurious locks," she says. "However, chemically-free hair requires patience and effort, so enjoy your natural hair journey."
To spend less time in the mirror and more time doing the things you enjoy, it's crucial to start with the right haircare. Charlotte adds: "Natural/afro hair requires maintenance; here are a few tips on how to keep it looking gorgeous.
Shampoo and conditioning: "Wash your hair weekly with a moisturising shampoo that has extra emollients (those formulated for dry or damaged hair are most nourishing). Follow each shampoo with a rinse-out conditioner and, once a month, treat yourself to either a hot oil treatment which helps seal in moisture, or steam treatment that allows water and conditioner to deep-penetrate the hair shaft."
If you're suffering from dry, stressed-out strands, the Herbal Essences bio:renew Coconut Milk shampoo and conditioner range is a total miracle-worker - crafted with essential antioxidant, aloe and sea kelp, this nourishing combo will help to keep hair shiny and hydrated from the get-go.
Combing out: "There is a special way to handle natural hair during the combing out process. Using a wide toothcomb, detangle the hair from the ends going towards the roots."
Drying: "You can air-dry, hood-dry or blow-dry with a diffuser, or if you require straighter hair blow-dry in sections with a comb attachment."
Charlotte also recommends investing in a manketti oil, explaining: "[Its] high polyunsaturated fatty acids act as a barrier to help prevent moisture from escaping from the hair for longer."
Whatever your hair type, saying yes to embracing your natural locks and downing your styling tools can be seriously liberating - it's time to give it a go.
We all know the old adage - volunteering makes you a better person. But no matter how good your intentions are, the notion of giving back often slips to the bottom of the 'important' pile as soon as life gets in the way. Still, giving even an hour or so of your time a week has tonnes of benefits, not just for those you're helping, but also for yourself. The Mental Health Foundation report that volunteering increases feelings of self-esteem, respect, motivation and wellbeing - something we could all do with embracing.
Whether it's befriending an older person with Age UK or giving your time to Friends of the Earth to help find solutions to environmental problems, the key is finding a cause that interests you. If you're not sure where to start, organisations like Do-it let you search a volunteering database to find opportunities close to where you live while filtering areas that you're particularly interested in. Now go feed that soul.
If you're in a relationship, we're happy for you. If you're single however, you'll know that the incessant swiping and ghosting cycle of modern dating can often leave you feeling jaded and fatigued at the thought of even entertaining that Thursday night drink. But ignoring your inner pessimist and saying yes more than no is a great way of building up confidence, while also allowing you to mentally tick off what you are (and definitely aren't) looking for.
There are other benefits to saying yes to more dates - dating stretches your social skills to the max, which can have a knock-on effect in other areas of your life such as work. Because after you've spent three hours exhausting every possible strand of small talk with a total stranger, it's safe to say you can take on any challenging social situation. And remember - for every bad date there's the potential of really hitting it off with someone.
5. Talking to strangers
When we're young, it's drummed into us that talking to strangers is a scary and dangerous concept that should be considered a big fat no. But as adults, the reluctance to talk to people outside of our usual social groups could actually be limiting our experience of life in a pretty significant way.
Author and talking-to-strangers-enthusiast Kio Stark has written about the subject (When Strangers Meet) and has even delivered a TED talk on it. In her essay she explains: "When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life - and theirs." So there's definitely something to be said for extending your daily conversation with strangers from the usual "can you move down the carriage please?" Try starting with a compliment the next time you spot the owner of a pair of amazing shoes - who knows what you might learn.
6. Your body
Between that morning latte and that afternoon Diet Coke, it's all too easy to lose touch with what your body actually needs. But taking a second to consider whether you're really hungry, or thirsty, or just plain exhausted, is crucial for a happy, healthy and productive existence.
If you're sitting at your desk with hunched shoulders and a clenched core, chances are you are tense. So instead of getting caught in the immobilising cycle of panicking over your ridiculous schedule for the week ahead, say yes to going for a walk or booking yourself in for an aromatherapy massage. Similarly, if you can barely keep your eyes open come 8pm on a Friday, say yes to an early night. It might sound obvious, but letting your mind tell your body 'no' all the time in favour of feeling productive will only wear you down in the long-run. Start saying yes and treating your body like the temple it is.