bound·a·ry
/ˈbound(ə)rē/
noun
Boundaries are a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.


Be honest, how do you feel when you hear the word boundaries?

When we aren’t used to putting ourselves first, self-love can feel pretty selfish, uncomfortable, and foreign, especially when we typically spend our time caring for our loved ones. Having people that we care about is one of those things that makes life beautiful, and setting boundaries doesn’t need to take away from any relationship. In fact, healthy boundaries can help strengthen them.

It’s easy to look at boundaries as these big all-or-nothing gestures, reserved for times when we’re completely maxed out and in need of time, space, or a break. But the thing about boundaries is that, when done intentionally, they can help to prevent us from completely maxing out in the first place. Think of them as little tactics to recharge your batteries regularly – healthy boundaries are like charging your phone the night before a big road trip, preventing it from dying halfway through when you’re relying on it for your GPS. Setting healthy boundaries will help you navigate life a little clearer, a little stronger, and a little more purposefully.

Acknowledge your limits

We’re human, which means we all have our own limits (or, what we can handle on a daily basis). Sometimes our limits are clearly laid out for us, such as the understanding that if we stay up late, we’ll be tired at work/school. But sometimes our limits change, and it can be harder for us to tell where they actually are, which is why we sometimes may enjoy spending a week with our friends nonstop, whereas other times just an afternoon out of the house may feel completely overwhelming.

Whether we realize it or not, we’re always growing and changing, which means that our needs and limits are growing and changing too. Even things such as how much sleep we’ve gotten, who we’re spending time with, past traumas we’ve experienced, or whether we’re in a global pandemic or not can influence how much we can handle on any given day. Instead of judging or criticizing ourselves for having limits, we need to remember that our limits do not make us weak, or less than, or broken, and instead, just see them for what they are: a normal and healthy part of life.

10 Simple Boundaries You Can Easily Incorporate Into Your Day

1. Protect your time

Whether we want to admit it or not, there will always be things in life that just need to be done (ie: going to the dentist, doing our taxes, or helping our best friend move) – it’s just a part of life. However, what we also need to realize is that there are some things that we have a little more control over. We only have a finite amount of time here on this earth, which means that life is way too short to be filling up our days with things that don’t lift us up. It’s okay to reevaluate things, make adjustments, or even block out things from our schedule – your time is valuable and deserves to be protected with boundaries.

2. Filter your social media usage

Social media connects us from every corner of the earth in ways that we’ve never been able to before. This can be amazing for keeping in touch with faraway friends and family, or meeting new people who we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. The issue, however, is that we’re constantly connected – at the touch of our fingers, we’ve suddenly found ourselves connected when we’re happy, when we’re stressed out, when we’re hurting, when we’re scared, when we’re hopeful, and when we’re confused. While social media may not necessarily need to be avoided entirely, we can set boundaries on when we go on it, how we access it, where we access it, and what we consume.

3. Rest & recharge

We can be quick to throw around the word lazy as a way to judge ourselves and others for needing to rest and recharge, but the fact of the matter is that life is designed to operate in seasons. There will be times in our lives when we feel super productive, driven, and accomplished, but there will also be times when we need to prioritize rest. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be blowing off work or school during these slower seasons, but what it does mean is that you may need to set healthy boundaries to prioritize rest. This could include setting a strict bedtime for yourself, setting aside a cozy night at home every week, or limiting technology in the bedroom.

Setting healthy boundaries around these limits will not only help to protect ourselves from reaching our max and burning out, but it will also help us protect our relationships too. For example, have you ever found yourself randomly snapping at someone you love, only to realize that it probably had to do with the fact that you hardly slept the night before? While life happens and you’ll probably find yourself with another sleepless again in the future, acknowledging your limits and setting healthy boundaries around sleep can help.

Also read: Going Slowly

4. Zone in on your wants/needs/desires

Let’s just say it like it is, sometimes focusing on our own wants, needs, or even desires can feel a little… icky, especially when we feel like we have other things we need to prioritize. The thing about understanding our wants, needs, and desires is that it doesn’t need to feel nearly as selfish as it may seem. In fact, by really zoning in on these things, you’re able to create small and actionable steps that you can implement daily, as opposed to having that feeling pile up over time.

5. Limit topics/conversations/potential trigger points

We all have our own entire life behind us, filled with highs and lows, and unique and individualized events. Regardless of how it may look from the outside, nobody lives a perfect life. We all have days when we’re feeling on top of the world, but we also all have days when things feel a little harder. If you know that there are certain topics, conversations, or potential trigger points that you find particularly challenging, remember that it’s okay to limit what you talk about with others. Similarly, remember that it’s okay if you feel strong and able to talk about difficult topics some days and not on others – no two days are the same, and that’s okay.

6. Get comfortable with the word no

There can be a stigma around the word no, where we believe that it’s disrespectful, harmful, or downright wrong to say, especially to anybody with any sort of perceived power over us. We may find ourselves becoming more concerned with how somebody will respond to the rejection, as opposed to zoning in on what it is that we actually want. Saying no isn’t something to fear – it’s a way to honour your own needs and wishes by protecting them with healthy boundaries. If this is new to you, try rehearsing kindhearted responses to politely say no, but focus on gaining confidence in your reasoning.

7. Establish routines

Whether we may realize it or not, it’s easy to find ourselves falling into routines (including how we get ready for work, or what we do on the weekends, or who we care for first). Without even realizing it, we may have already established systems to make sure everybody else is taken care of, but prioritizing ourselves may still feel a little foreign. Find small areas in your day where you can establish routines around your self-care, and then set boundaries to protect them. It could be something as simple as where you drink your coffee in the morning, making sure you read a chapter of your favourite book before you fall asleep, or going on a daily walk. Find what works for you, and establish a daily routine around it.

8. Unfollow people (in real life, too)

There’s an old expression that goes, “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. We need to remember we’re constantly growing and changing, and relationships won’t always grow and change at the same pace as well. When this happens, remember that it’s okay to walk away from, limit, or mute friendships and relationships that are no longer positively impacting our lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to go out and flames, sometimes it just means that we need to set boundaries on when, where, and how we interact with people. Who knows what the future will hold, sometimes a little time is all we need.

9. Let it be

Have you ever had a friend that you can’t help but worry about? The one that always seems to be falling for the wrong people, or who repeatedly underutilizes their potential? When we care about someone, we look out for them, we want the best for them, and we worry about them. But what we need to remember we are solely responsible for the ways we navigate our own lives, the relationships we hold, and the decisions we make. Wanting to be there for our friends is great, but we need to remember that it’s not our job to be their therapist, life coach, or doctor. Assuming that they’re a legal, independent adult, if you’re concerned for their wellbeing, you can help to connect them with professional resources that they may need, but it’s not your job to be those resources for them. Setting boundaries around how much you make yourself available to someone else does not mean that you’re turning your back to them and letting them fall on their face, but what it does mean is that you can offer to support in the ways that you can personally.

10. Always love yourself first

You are the only you that you will ever have, so make sure you always cherish, honour, trust, and love yourself. Setting boundaries may feel uncomfortable and foreign, especially if you’re new to it. But keep in mind that when you do all things out of love for yourself and others, chances are that you’ll end up doing the right thing in the end. You’ve got this.

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