“Do we really have the right to take care of ourselves? Do we really have the right to set boundaries? Do we really have the right to be direct and say what we need to say? You bet we do.” - Melody Beattie
How to Set Healthy Boundaries – and Why It Matters
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We are currently in the middle of a pandemic, and we as a nation along with the rest of the world are trying to navigate on how to live our lives and figure out what the new “normal” looks like. People are at a loss as to what to do, as we have never experienced this before. This is a war we cannot see, “out of sight out of mind”. This is where boundaries are crossed without even knowing them or knowing that we need to set them. One thing we do know is to wash your hands, wear a face mask, and social distance at six feet apart.
Navigating a new normal can be difficult. Whether you are debating who to allow in your “inner circle” post lockdown or figuring out how to address strangers whose actions in public affect you, it is important to understand how to set healthy boundaries.
According to Mariana Bockarova, Ph.D.,“Knowing our boundaries and setting them are two very different hurdles to overcome. Setting boundaries does not always come easily. It’s often a skill that needs to be learned.”
What are healthy boundaries?
Healthy boundaries are what you feel comfortable about and with your choices. This is a time to reflect and decide what you need to do, to be safe and feel good about.
Boundaries are not walls intended to keep people out physically or emotionally; they are just a way to protect yourself. Setting healthy boundaries involves self-care techniques that protect your physical, emotional and mental health.
First, it is important to understand that setting boundaries does not mean you are being selfish or trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. Remember that you are taking care of yourself and showing respect for those around you. These are boundaries that help you feel safe and protect yourself.
Why are boundaries important?
Healthy boundaries are important for both our physical and emotional health. Navigating the physical boundary and trying not to make it an emotional boundary is especially important, and we should be mindful how we address boundaries with family and friends.
While someone may have the best intentions with social distancing, they may not always follow the guidelines. One way to set healthy boundaries is to have a plan in place for when you are exposed to this, and to take care of yourself (and your loved ones) first. Having your tools (knowing your personal boundaries and how to handle them) in place to use for when a situation occurs, and boundaries are crossed. It’s important to stay focused and grounded with your choices. Doing this conveys inner strength, which people will recognize and respect.
Setting physical and emotional boundaries allows us to be open and honest with ourselves. Be specific and detailed. Try not to use too many words, and try to stay confident about your choices.
How to set healthy boundaries with family
Setting boundaries with family can be tricky, whether you live under one roof or living apart. These suggestions will help you with the process.
Communication is key with both friends and family. Start by having a discussion. Talk about your feelings and what you believe needs to occur to keep everyone safe and healthy. Take time to listen to how the other party feels.
Do not second guess your feelings or needs.It is important to remain confident in the decisions and choices you have made.
Remember that saying “no” is OK. If something does not feel right to you, say so. Your health and safety come first.
Be thorough in explaining your needs and guidelines so everyone knows where you stand. Make sure you are clear and specific.
Have a good support system who will stand by you and the boundaries that you have set.
Remember to practice self care
Taking a time-out from social media and the news will help calm your mind from stress and anxiety. Try exploring new activities like meditation, yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises). And be sure to stay physically active, taking regular walks or doing workouts to keep your body moving and clear your mind.
It’s also important, of course, to eat a healthy diet and to take supplements, if necessary, to fill in any nutritional gaps.
Sticking with a sound daily routine – and taking care of you first – will help keep you centered and better able to set and maintain healthy boundaries.
Once you have a better understanding of your boundaries, you can express yourself clearly when a situation arises. And this will help guide you through the new “normal.”