What are healthy boundaries:
Healthy boundaries are boundaries that you put in place within your relationships, regardless of who the relationship is with (co-workers, family, friends). There are many different types of boundaries that include physical, emotional, time, work, mental, conversational, internal (self), and material limits.
Physical Boundaries are those you set for your personal space and privacy and include your physical needs, like eating, sleeping, and rest. Emotional boundaries are around sharing your emotions and personal details of your life. Time boundaries are centered on the time you spend on various things and how you prioritize your time. These can include the time you spend with others and communicating your time constraints to others. Work boundaries are those that help distinguish between your work and personal life. Mental boundaries are around your thoughts, values, and opinions and your willingness to share these with others. Conversational boundaries help set limits to conversations and topics that you are comfortable with and willing to discuss with others. Internal (Self) boundaries are those that assist in self-regulation and the amount of energy you spend on yourself versus others. Lastly, material boundaries are around your personal belongings and monetary decisions.
How to implement boundaries into your life
Begin by putting your needs first. To do this, you need to be aware of your personal needs by asking what you need from yourself and from others. Put these needs before others’ needs and wants. This is in line with taking care of yourself before you can take care of others. Specifically for time boundaries, it is important to set these by clearly expressing the importance, value, and respect that you have for your time and for others and asking others to have the same for your time.
The important thing to remember with setting boundaries with family members is to be kind and respectful, as this may support them to be more accepting of them. Additionally, ensuring that you have realistic expectations for your relationships will help with setting boundaries. This is imperative when dealing with family members who object to or disregard your limits, as it can help reduce the impact that such family members may have if they ignore your boundaries.
Setting boundaries with work is extremely important in today’s society, as technology and flexible work arrangements have changed our work habits and expectations. A lack of boundaries around your work can lead to blurred lines between your personal and work life, taking on additional workload and getting trapped or involved in others’ personal issues or gossip.
Here are some tips to help set limits, with some examples of work boundaries:
- Take mental health days/ sick days
- Set physical boundaries based on your comfort level (i.e. shaking hands)
- Take your breaks away from your desk.
- Leave work at work or, if you work from home, have a designated area of your home as your workspace, so that you can have a clear distinction between your home and work life.
- Only work within your work hours; if possible set your hours and stick to them.
- Set busy notices when you are engaged in a task or require uninterrupted time.
- Refrain from gossip or rumors.
- Be open and upfront about how you like to give and receive feedback.
- Delegate work if necessary and appropriate.
- Only share personal details if you are comfortable.
With social media:
Social media has become a popular way to stay connected to others but has also become a big distraction in everyday life. Here are some tips to help set boundaries with your social media use:
- Set screen-free or social media-free days.
- Set clear and firm social media time limits and cut-off times for your evenings.
- Set app limits or set “downtime” to help reduce your use of your phone/ social media. You can still use your phone during the downtime, but you will receive a notification that can help you increase your awareness of your usage
- Unfollow or unfriend accounts that don’t add anything to your life. This means if they aren’t providing positive, encouraging, or inspiring content or content that brings you joy, remove them.
Setting boundaries with ourselves is an area that many people struggle with, as commitments to others tend to take away our focus from ourselves. Additionally, it seems to be easier to break promises to ourselves. However, boundaries for ourselves are just as important, if not more so, as boundaries with other people. Boundaries with ourselves can assist in monitoring our behavior and help create structure. They should reflect your needs and priorities and can change over time. The first step is to identify areas in your life that you feel require more structure or limits and create boundaries that align with your goals and values. An important aspect of boundary setting is to avoid setting too many boundaries at once as this can increase the feeling of being constricted or restricted. It can also decrease the likelihood that you will maintain these boundaries. To help avoid this, set boundaries incrementally. For example, if you want to limit your use of social media, reduce your current social media usage by 15 minutes. Once you can maintain this reduction, then you can further reduce your usage by another 15 minutes and so on until you reach your desired limit.
At CMAP Health, we offer an extensive, multi-disciplinary service. Our therapists are trained in-house, highly skilled and have weekly access to ongoing supervision. As a team, we offer services at a range of fee levels.