Setting boundaries is an art. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when it touches on the core aspects of our lives: our relationships with the people in our lives, our professions and day-to-day responsibilities, as well as our personal decisions. Boundaries help us separate our feelings, needs, responsibilities, and even just our physical space, from not only people but entities as well.
It’s difficult to decide where boundaries need to be laid, especially when the lines become blurred, but it’s a nécessité when wanting to find peace and balance within our own lives. The new year is a great time to revisit the lines that we’ve set in every facet of our lives to ensure that we have the space that we need to breathe, learn, and grow, stress and pressure-free.
Many of us value a work-life balance, but how many of us are successful in mastering the divide between both? It can feel difficult to not allow the lines to blur, especially if the industry historically harps on total and complete involvement. Our passion for our work can often become a grey area, too, as we can find joy in our work when we feel strongly about it. Even so, we should have a separation between the two. This can allow us to achieve balance between our personal and professional lives and avoid enduring unnecessary stress that can take a toll on us mentally, which can then manifest into physical ailments as well.
Whether you’re working at home or in the office, taking breaks may seem like a simple boundary to set, but it’s a perfect step to creating a physical distance between you and your work. Stepping away from what you’re working on can help clear your head and make better decisions while breaking up the day and working against feeling sluggish or burnt out.
One of the seemingly easy ways to set boundaries in almost any area of your life is to say “no.” It is a complete sentence, after all. When it comes to work, everything might seem like an obligation, but a line needs to be drawn between your personal and professional self. Whether it’s declining to work weekends when your job only requires your presence in the office on weekdays or turning down a project outside of your department because you don’t have the time in your calendar without overworking yourself.
It may be hard to believe, but it’s important to set boundaries for yourself, too. We are in control of our actions and while that plays into how we interact with the people in our lives and our professional life, it also takes into account what we do on our own time, too. How we choose to spend our time and energy in our day-to-day lives requires boundaries from time to time to keep ourselves from falling down potentially toxic rabbit holes.
One of these boundaries can be put up when it comes to social media and internet consumption. As humans, we tend to “doomscroll” and “hate follow,” two actions on the internet that aren’t a productive use of our time. In one, we over-consume news about disheartening, negative topics that can affect our psyche, while the other has us spending time on people or things that we do not actively need or want in our life but choose to follow regardless.
Both actions have us spending time on social media that isn’t enhancing our lives, but rather, are disrupting our emotional and spiritual balance. We have control over what we do in the privacy of our own homes. Rather than allowing yourself to spend countless hours looking through content that doesn’t serve you, opt for content that makes you feel like your best self, or even take the time to disconnect entirely and find an internet-free activity to fill your time, like reading, cooking, or heading outside for your favorite activity.
You make the rules in your own life. If you find yourself unwisely spending time, you can wield your power to put a stop. But, you have to want it. It can be easy to give into ourselves because we confuse our surface-level wants with what we truly need deep down.
We’ve heard time and time again that we don’t owe anybody our time, but living that out doesn’t feel as productive as it might sound. Human interaction is integral to every aspect of our health. Having a strong network of support and strong community bonds can help improve our emotional and physical health, especially in our adult lives. Even though our relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers are key for our well-being, it doesn’t mean that we don’t get to set boundaries to preserve our time and mental health when those relationships can do more harm than good.
We have limits and we need to define what those are to foster continued healthy relationships moving forward. These boundaries are designed by yourself based on what the root of the issue is and what you see the end goal to be.
If you’d like more space and find that you don’t have that in your relationship, or if you feel that at times, you are burdened with a heavy emotional load from someone in your life, you have to reflect on your thoughts before expressing them aloud. Avoid it feeling like a confirmation and keep things positive. You’re simply setting a boundary, not cutting them off forever. This will foster a more positive, mutually-beneficial relationship in the long run rather than silently harboring a negative feeling in the pit of your stomach until it becomes too much to bear.