If the global pandemic has taught us anything it’s that healthy boundaries are considered to be extremely vital to our emotional well-being and mental health. As I always say, we were all in the same storm, but in very different boats. Think yachts versus Jack and Rose deciding who gets to stay floating on the door in the final moments of Titanic (is it a spoiler of the film that came out in a double VHS box in 1997? Asking for a friend.).
People are working at home, working as first responders, working while parenting, while caregiving, all from the same space, or not working at all. Everyone has developed different stressors and different tolerance levels and the bottom line is we all have a breaking point no matter our circumstances. Some people are breaking because they are so overwhelmed, and others are breaking because they are so incredibly lonely. So how do we learn to co-exist to meet our own needs and the needs of others so we can maintain something so vital to our existence; human connection and relationship?
Healthy Boundaries Are Not Walls
At first, boundaries can feel really unnatural for both the person establishing them and the person on the receiving end, especially if you are a recovering people pleaser like me. I would like to share with you some simple ways in which I have established boundaries in my own life, and then I will share with you other professionals I follow and their advice.
Most importantly, to be able to set boundaries you need to know how you are feeling and what you need. During the pandemic and in high-stress situations this can feel almost impossible, however slowing down and really listening to your body, mind, and spirit will allow you to tap into your own needs. You may be thinking “I don’t have time to tune in with myself.” What if I told you taking just 2-4 minutes to evaluate your own needs could actually create more free and more efficient time in your day because you may find that you have over-committed yourself, or you may start to notice one person, thing, or project is taking up a majority of your energy and that energy could be better redirected?
I promise you taking even just a small amount of time for yourself may magically create more time in your world. Once you know who you are, what you value, and what you need it is easier to say “YES” when you mean “YES” and “NO” when you mean “NO.” Learning to say “no” to people or things not meant for you does not mean you have to become a jerk it just means you are compassionate with yourself and others as you honestly choose what and who you allow in your life. I think one of the easiest ways to tangibly think of setting a boundary is with our time. This is especially effective when you are wearing many different hats.
In my world, I:
- Run my own business
- Work as a full-time social worker
- Teach yoga
- Take care of my partner, my dog, and myself
Yes, I put myself last in this sentence but in reality, I put myself first. Each week I take an assessment of how much time and energy it will take me to do each of my tasks. I write a clear schedule that I share with my partner, that schedule includes time for me to work out and take “me time”. That schedule also includes time for my partner, my dog, and me, AKA “family time”. If I have “extra” or leftover time in the week I fill that with community-based events or activities with friends who align with my needs. I am careful with “energy vampires” people who suck your emotional energy without adding much value to your relationship.
When I am in each bucket of time, as best as I can, I am 100% devoted to that task I have carved the time out for. That way I can be more present and feel less overwhelmed and show up as my best self at that moment. That way when I am spending time with others, I can be really present with them, and then naturally they are more accepting of my boundaries because I am a better me when I am with them. In a nutshell, setting boundaries is healthy for everyone involved.
Are Boundaries Healthy in a Relationship?
This is one of the questions I get most often and my answer is always, YES! Our relationships are often the thing that takes up a majority of our emotional energy. How are they feeling, how am I feeling, how are they perceiving me, how are my actions affecting them, how are their actions affecting me? Sound familiar? Every relationship, both romantic and platonic, needs boundaries and space so that the people in the relationship can remain their amazing individual selves and so that when the two people in a relationship come together they can continue to add to one another’s growth and shared experiences.
Imagine this, you and your partner (or friend, or roommate, or child) are living together, both stuck at home either working or not working, you have the same circle of people you are allowed to spend time with, you eat together, sleep together, etc., you have no additional room in your home to go and have “alone time” so your physical and energetic space is always shared. You are feeling particularly overwhelmed and you crave silence, peace, and quiet but the people in your home need stimulation so they want to talk, and listen to music, and watch television, and play games. If you do not set a boundary and continue along with what others in your home are doing without honoring your own needs, what do you think happens?
That’s right maybe you end up breaking down, or snapping, or yelling and screaming at those around you. There is no shame here, we have all been in these moments. What if instead, you decided to tell your family, I love you I just need some time to myself and then went for a walk. Perhaps coming back you would feel more refreshed and able to be present with your loved ones instead of resentful and overwhelmed.
What Does it Mean to Have Healthy Boundaries?
Having healthy boundaries means you honor yourself and the people you are in partnership with to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met either together or independently of one another. I am not an expert in boundaries I simply share my own experiences, the experiences of my clients, and what I know from years of schooling and work in the field of helping others.
Another professional I admire who has further courses and information on setting boundaries is Terri Cole, she is another therapist who offers boundary workshops if you are feeling stuck, you can find more information at her website here. “How to Set Healthy Boundaries” is also a component of my personal Healing Your Mindset with Sarah course, which you can always reach out to me directly for more information.
If you feel like you are wanting more recipes, tips, and tricks to living your healthiest life, I have lots more tips and tricks where those came from. All of my meal plans include access to hundreds of recipes and short, easy, all levels workouts. If you have any specific recipes you would like or fitness program questions, always feel free to reach out to me.
Love and Light Always
“Sarah Savino is my recommended Wellness and Nutrition Coach who resides in Colorado but has a community of clients she guides and manages nationally. She has her frequent retreats that her clients are encouraged but not required to attend and someone who knows first hand how it is to be overworked and overweight. She is a living truth that once within the right community and with the right guide, everything is possible. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook.com/sarah.savino or Instagram @the_fit_philanthropist ” – Dr. Shakib, your Irvine Posture Chiropractor