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Set Up Healthy Boundaries

An important part of your mental health is knowing when and how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining mental well-being. These boundaries, essentially personal limits we set with others, help manage the demands placed upon us, ensuring we don’t become overwhelmed. They serve as guidelines for how we want to be treated and what we consider acceptable behavior from others.

Unhealthy boundaries can significantly impact emotional well-being negatively. When boundaries are too rigid or too loose, it disrupts emotional balance and leads to stress and anxiety. Rigid boundaries isolate individuals, preventing them from forming meaningful connections, which can lead to loneliness and feelings of disconnection. On the other hand, poor boundaries or a lack of boundaries leave individuals vulnerable to being overwhelmed by others’ needs and emotions. This can result in a loss of identity and low self-esteem, as the person constantly prioritizes others over themselves, leading to burnout, resentment, and emotional exhaustion. Such imbalance often results in strained relationships and hinders personal growth and happiness. Maintaining healthy boundaries is thus crucial for emotional resilience and well-being for the following reasons.

First, setting boundaries promotes self-respect. By establishing limits, we send a message to ourselves and others that our personal needs and feelings are important. It’s a way of prioritizing our well-being and recognizing our right to mental and emotional health.

Second, boundaries reduce stress and anxiety. When we clearly define our limits, we reduce the likelihood of being placed in uncomfortable or harmful situations. This clarity can significantly decrease our own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, as we have a better understanding of what to expect in our interactions with friends and family members.

Third, boundaries can foster healthy relationships. Contrary to the belief that setting limits pushes people away, it can actually strengthen relationships. Clear boundaries create a foundation of mutual respect and understanding. They help avoid resentment and conflicts by making sure everyone’s expectations are aligned.

Fourth, setting boundaries enhances self-awareness and personal growth. It involves understanding our limits, which requires introspection and self-reflection. This process can lead to greater self-understanding and personal development.

Boundaries are essential for work-life balance. In a world where work can easily consume our personal lives, setting clear limits ensures that we have time for rest, hobbies, and relationships outside of work.

Finally, setting boundaries is a vital aspect of self-care and mental health. It empowers us to respect our own needs, reduces stress, improves our relationships, promotes personal growth, and helps maintain a healthy work-life balance. By establishing and respecting our own boundaries, we can create a healthier, more balanced life.

Boundaries can be both physical as well as  emotional and are a critical aspect of establishing a firm sense of identity. They also help us… 

  • Avoid burnout
  • Develop our sense of autonomy 
  • Influence and model behavior for others
  • Promote emotional health 
  • Increase well-being

But what do healthy boundaries look like? Well, it depends on the context, but some examples include: 

  • Separating your work and personal life by not having email on your phone 24/7
  • Setting expectations for what you are and aren’t comfortable with in your personal and professional life
  • Remembering that you’re not responsible for every aspect of someone else’s happiness or lack thereof
  • Sharing your emotions needs and what you’re able to provide
  • Saying no 
  • Accepting help when needed

Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially for people pleasers. Here’s a framework to use to set personal boundaries in work and life: 

  1. Define — As a first step, we must be aware of the physical and emotional boundaries we need. Remember bowling as a kid? It’s time to put up those bumpers. Otherwise, it can be easy to “go into the gutter.” 
  2. Communicate — After defining your different boundaries, share what you need. The key here is to say what you need. Use “I” statements, such as “I need some personal space and time right now.” This will go over better than statements such as “You have to stop coming over here every day,” as it will increase the likelihood of an authentic conversation. 
  3. K.I.S. Principle — Keep it simple. You don’t need to over-explain or justify how you’re feeling. Sometimes sharing things more than once is also required, as making shifts in relationships can take time. Be persistent and clear in the process.  
  4. Mind the Boundaries — Make sure to share why these types of boundaries are important and know the action you will take if they are not respected. It is important to plan ahead and be ready to follow through with these actions. For example, maybe it’s spending less time with someone, texting less frequently, or finding an ally to support you in this transition.  

As you navigate work, personal relationships, and life in general, practice the skill of setting effective boundaries to thrive now and in the future. It’s of benefit to yourself, and all those around you. It’s important to your emotional well-being and to well-being of those around you.



*If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, request an appointment with one of our professional mental health providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.

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