An important part of self-care involves knowing your limits. You need to know what you can and cannot handle — in your relationships, your work and even your own inner life. For this reason, you may have heard people emphasize the importance of setting boundaries. But what exactly are healthy boundaries? And what aspects of your life should they encompass?
The answers to these questions will vary from person to person. But if you’re thinking about setting new boundaries in your life, there are a few important things to consider. Let’s take a look at what healthy boundaries are and how you can incorporate them into your life.
Personal Boundaries Define Your Limits
When you set boundaries, you formally define your limits with yourself and others. You establish what you’re comfortable with and what negatively affects your mental and physical health. By setting reasonable boundaries, you protect yourself from emotional burnout and maintain a stable sense of self.
Boundaries can be verbal, mental, emotional and physical. Essentially, a healthy boundary defines the rules of how you want to treat others and be treated. Boundaries define where you as a person end and others begin. In other words, they make up the ideal “rules” of your existence.
The boundaries you set should reflect your values, needs and beliefs. Identify what interactions and situations tire you, and set boundaries to limit their existence in your life.
For example, if you notice that someone’s bad moods keep bringing you down, you may need to establish a separation between your own emotions and those of others. This strategy might mean taking more time to yourself or practicing techniques to ground yourself.
You should never compromise your boundaries for others, but you should make sure you’re not hurting the people around you. For example, even if you’re alright spending every second with your friends, they might not feel the same. Be careful that your expectations aren’t too low or too high.
Though setting boundaries may seem a bit formal, doing so can help you avoid conflict in your relationships and enjoy your life more. When you set them, you’re taking your needs seriously.
Here are four aspects of life that call for healthy boundaries.
1. Romantic Relationships
Setting boundaries in romantic relationships is essential to avoiding conflict and emotional pain. Some examples of limits to discuss in romantic relationships include your stances on PDA, the types of physical intimacy you’re comfortable with, what things you can share and the kind of language that’s appropriate during arguments. All boundaries should be discussed with your partner or partners, but remember that you don’t have to compromise if you aren’t comfortable doing so.
2. Professional Life
It can be hard to separate your work and personal lives. However, in order to cope with work stress and stay mentally and physically healthy, you can’t bring work home with you every day. If you constantly find yourself overworked, set boundaries at the office. Remind your co-workers or boss that you do get done at 5 p.m. and that you can’t work this weekend. Even if you want to work more, monitor your stress, and take time to decompress when you need it.
3. Public Life
Whether you spend your time scrolling through Twitter or listening to a friend rant about something they saw on their news feed, it’s possible that you have an unhealthy relationship with information. Being constantly inundated with negative stories can be especially difficult for minorities, whose very existence could be threatened. If the state of the world is stressing you out, you may need to set some boundaries in your public life. That could mean doing a digital detox or finding a safe space to relax with like-minded individuals once a week.
Close relationships with friends make life exciting and full of love. However, setting boundaries in friendships may be just as important as welcoming them into your life. If you ever find yourself annoyed or frustrated with a friend, consider why. Maybe you need to spend less time together or limit certain topics of discussion. If you decide to set boundaries in your friendship, discuss it openly together. Keep in mind that this applies to family relationships as well.
Respect Your Limits
Though setting boundaries might feel awkward at first, it’ll become easier over time. When you respect your limits and the limits of others, you help keep your relationships functional and take care of your own well-being. Look for areas in your life where setting healthy boundaries could be helpful, and don’t wait to get started on living your best life.
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