how to establish personal boundaries

In the year of chaos that is 2020, we’ve all experienced our own version of feeling overwhelmed. We’ve all tried to “push through” or pretend that everything’s still normal when it isn’t, and in the end, this leads to burnout or emotional breakdowns. And this kind of trauma has been proven to affect us long term

Personal boundaries give us the chance to recognise when something becomes too much for us to handle before we become overwhelmed. They allow us the option of saying yes or no. Choosing who and what we want in our day to day lives with confidence and ease.

What are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries allow you to determine what you will and won’t do. They help you understand how or who you want to spend your time with. The simplest power we have for setting boundaries is our ability to say YES or NO. Once you know what your limits are, it becomes easier to say no to tasks, events or people who cross those boundaries.

Why is it important to set boundaries?

Your time and energy are precious resources that you need to look after. If you take nothing else away from this year, it’s that there is only so much you can handle, and things can become “too much” pretty quickly if we let them. By setting boundaries, you will have more time and energy to spend on things or people that you enjoy and love.

Boundaries also support your mental health. By knowing how you want to spend your time and energy, it can significantly relieve stress and anxiety in your day to day life. 

How to set personal boundaries.

1. Accept that you’re struggling. 

If it feels like you can handle something any more, then it’s time to put your hand up and acknowledge that enough is enough. It could be that your workload is too heavy, someone is taking up too much of your time, or there is a situation that you just don’t want to be involved in any more. Sit down and have to think about why it’s too much, and what aspects are you struggling with. Make a detailed list about what is worrying you or causing you stress. This will help you to define where boundaries are and what you no longer want to feel and experience.

2. Decide on an action plan.

How are you going to set your boundaries? It could involve talking to your manager about their expectations of you and your responsibilities, or delegating some of your work to your teammates. Maybe you just need to set clear work hours and make the conscious decision to turn your work emails off at the same time every day. It could also be that you need to sit down and talk to a friend or family member about how you feel you are being treated. Creating exact steps on how to implement your boundaries will give you the framework to rely on now and in the future.

3. Communicate open and honestly

Once you have your boundaries set and know-how you’ll action them, you must communicate your boundaries to those around you. Let people know what you’re doing and explain why. This might involve talking to people one on one or sending an email to colleagues. Keep the communication based on yourself and your experience. Being as honest and open as possible. Allowing people to be more understanding and compassionate will ensure you don’t create issues in your relationships. 

4. Follow through and stick to your boundaries

There is no point defining your personal boundaries, communicating them to just forget them. Respect your time and energy, and others will do the same. Sure, it takes time and practice saying NO, but it also gets easier the more you do it. Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. 

Personal boundaries are essential for creating a life you love. Your mental and emotional health is essential and deserves to be a priority. If you set boundaries and communicate them clearly, then people around you will know what to expect from you. They will know that you value and respect your time and energy as well as theirs and you’ll start 2021 ready to take on whatever comes!