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Refill Your Cup with Self-Care

Genuine, sustained self-care is an art.

Building and Sustaining Boundaries

Posted by Michele Crawford - Health

Boundaries are a vital aspect of self-care. Establishing boundaries can help one manage stress, accomplish goals, get enough sleep, and enjoy a healthy personal and professional life. For some of us, setting and maintaining boundaries is much easier said than done!

I don’t know about you, but I personally didn’t have a ‘boundary 101’ class in school. These skills are often learned through experience or watching those around us. So what does having healthy boundaries actually mean? One way to think about it is understanding what your limits are.

As you start to think about your limits be sure to examine them in all areas of your life – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. As you ponder this question of ‘just what are my limits?’ I encourage you to tap into your feelings. Warning signs that your boundaries are either being crossed or you are not preserving your boundaries might be feelings of discomfort, resentment, or being taken advantage of.

For example, your supervisor asks you to stay late to finish a project. You have plans for the evening but cancel them because you feel guilty saying no. Later that night you feel resentment towards your boss because you gave up your free time. As you think back to the situation, you realize you let go of your boundaries regarding balance between work and personal life.

If setting new boundaries or protecting already established boundaries is a tool you would like to add to your self-care toolbox, consider these suggestions:

1. Take baby steps - Begin with a small boundary, something that’s not too difficult for you, and then gradually move to more challenging boundaries.

2. Give yourself permission – Don’t let fear, guilt, or self-doubt get in the way of your success.

3. Exercise self-awareness – Stay tuned in to your feelings. Take note when those uncomfortable emotions creep up. Take some time to take note of your triggers.

4. Be direct – Communication is crucial. Be assertive (and of course respectful) in telling someone when a boundary has been crossed.

5. Find support when needed – Ask a close friend or family member to help hold you accountable.

6. Practice, practice, practice – If these are new skills for you, most likely you won’t master them overnight or on the first go round. Be patient with yourself and keep trying!

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