How and why to set boundaries

how to set boundaries

Practicing building and preserving boundaries is something we could all do with a little more of in our lives. Boundaries are part of our everyday life, we have boundaries with our co-workers, friends, families, employers and partners. They allow us to signify to others when a line is being crossed which can prevent us from feeling uncomfortable and stressed in the long run. However, when we let these important boundaries slip it can lead to feelings of resentment and being overwhelmed. Without boundaries, we are inadvertently saying that we are okay with certain things e.g. answering work emails late at night, which means they will happen over and over again. 

Boundaries are an important self care tool that allow us time and space to love ourselves and take care of our individual needs. Setting clear and concise boundaries, especially at work will help you enjoy a more balanced home life with enough time for yourself. So how do you go about setting boundaries? Here are some tips to get you started:

Identify what your limit is

If your boundaries are pushed too far it is easy to become resentful or angry towards your friends/family/coworkers. By identifying where your limit is, you will allow yourself time to think about it beforehand: how much work is too much? How late is too late to contact you? Is working weekends a step too far? Take some time to think about what will push you to feel stressed or uncomfortable and recognise these as your boundaries.

Be mindful of how you feel

Mindfulness is something we all need to be conscious of every single day. An important aspect of building and preserving boundaries is being mindful of how we feel in certain situations. If you notice yourself feeling resentful of a situation or towards a certain person it is probably because a boundary is being crossed. For example, when you feel like you are being taken advantage of or you are not being properly appreciated, this is probably due to a lack of communication over where your boundaries lie. 

Be clear and direct

When it comes to building boundaries and preserving boundaries it is important to be clear and direct. Now is not the time to hint at someone that they are crossing a boundary and hope they understand your subtle cues. Hinting may also lead to you coming across as bitchy or passive-aggressive. Next time someone is crossing one of your boundaries, simply say in a calm manner “this is asking too much of me, I’m sorry but I can’t do this”. Alternatively, use your ‘out of office’ function, or a voicemail message so there will be no miscommunication when you need some time for yourself. 

Remember that most boundaries are not universal

What might be too much for you may be okay for others, and what might be too much for others is okay for you. When setting boundaries it is important to remember that you are individual with your own needs and it’s okay to have your own set of rules. This also makes it difficult for others to know your boundaries as they are completely unique to you. This is why setting your own boundaries is even more important, so others know where your line is drawn. 

Give yourself permission

Giving yourself permission to set boundaries is one of the hardest steps. Perhaps you feel setting boundaries will push people away, hinder your chance or a promotion or stand in the way of your next bonus. Just remember, it is okay to set boundaries in any area of your life, and people will respect you for doing so. You don't always have to be available, or always say yes, and fear or guilt shouldn’t coerce you into doing so. 

Make yourself a priority

Helping others out and putting others first is something that feels good and does good for others. However, it is important to look after yourself just as much as you look after others. If you don't make yourself a priority you will be quick to burn out and end up letting people down anyway. Building boundaries and preserving them is a healthy way to take care of yourself and ensure you aren’t spreading yourself too thin. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, set those boundaries and take some time out for a bit of self care. Whatever self care looks like to you, apply your Scentered Aromatherapy Balm, take a deep breath and relax. 

Start small

Practice makes perfect. Don’t start with the big issue, start by enforcing a small boundary that you will find easy to enforce and work up to the big scary ones!