Setting self-care boundaries that protect your wellbeing.
I struggle with boundaries. The imaginary white picket fence that I built around me, has had rather loose foundations in the past. At times the gate has been left wide open leaving me susceptible to feel taken advantage of, resentful, stressed, and emotionally drained. Actively managing my self-care boundaries is a continuous process!
I’m a people pleaser. I don’t like to think that I’ve let someone down; It makes me feel uncomfortable. The problems occur when you’re self-sacrificing your own needs. Too often I’ve said YES when I should be saying NO, particularly when I didn’t have the capacity to take anything else on. Afterwards, I can feel a pang of resent towards myself and resistance in what I’ve agreed to do.
When was the last time you felt resentful in your personal or work life?
As the wonderful Brene Brown says…
“Resentment is an emotion we experience when we fail to set boundaries or ask for what we need.” Brené Brown.
I’m grateful for the time I’ve invested in getting to the root cause of my “bendy self-care boundaries.” There will always be roots that need to be dug up! But I’m grateful for the self-awareness I’ve developed and my ability to recognise when I’m falling into old patterns.
In this article I’ll share with you how to set up and enforce self-care boundaries that protect your wellbeing in a way that you won’t feel guilty when you enforce them.
Why healthy boundaries are important for your wellbeing.
Have you every left a meeting at work, or after being in the company of family or friends and the experience has left you feeling anxious, stressed, or like all your energy has been sucked out of you? If the answer is ‘yes’, there’s a good chance that your boundaries have been broken.
Boundaries fundamentally are a form of self-care. They are there to support your wellbeing to protect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. But also, to maintain and create healthy relationships, advising others where they stand. They define the appropriate behaviour in a relationship to keep all parties safe and avoid any feelings that can build up if your boundaries have been pushed to the limit. Feelings like resentment, disappointment, or anger.
With the right self-care boundaries in place, you can ensure that your needs are met, and that you have the energy and resources available to show up fully in your work and personal life.
Self-care boundaries I have to manage my wellbeing.
Chronic stress, anxiety and experiencing burn-out more than once has taught me the importance of taking care of my wellbeing. I work from home and across different time zones, without healthy boundaries the separation between work and personal life can get blurry.
These blurred lines of separation were a problem that surfaced for many people who worked from home during the pandemic. The findings in a research study, showed that those who were unable to determine clear boundaries between their home and work life, experienced a reduction in healthy lifestyle behaviours and an increase in feeling emotional exhaustion and unhappiness.
For the days when I’m fully engaged in my ‘client work’ and when I’m focusing fully on our yoga and meditation business, I have included time boundaries to support my wellbeing.
They look something like this…
- I choose to work for five hours a day. Gone are the days where I work late into the evening! As a result, my sleep has improved and I’m able to manage my stress levels.
- Around 4pm, when I finish my working day, I like to go for a walk, or practice Yoga Nidra. This forms a clear boundary between my workday and home life.
- I also ensure I take a real lunch break every day. It may sound odd to you for me to say I take a ‘real lunch break’ but so often I would eat at my desk and continue working. I could write a whole blog why this is such a bad habit!
At the beginning of 2022, I made a commitment to myself to bring more ‘self-care’ into my week. For me this looked like a mid-week morning walk at the beach which I’m really pleased to say I’ve continued! It’s a self-care boundary I’m not prepared to let go of.
This walk is a valuable time to pause, recharge and provides a separation between my work modalities. But importantly it’s cherished time that is just for me.
How to set healthy self-care boundaries.
Work on your Self-Awareness to identify your needs.
Your self-care boundaries will be unique to you. When you set them, it’s essential to understand why each one is important to you. How they will benefit your wellbeing across the different aspects of your life, from work, family, friendships, relationships to your own self-care needs.
Do you know your own personal values? Make a list or journal what values are important to you and why. I find mindfulness meditation to be a valuable tool that has enables me to be aware of how I feel and what’s important to me from moment to moment.
Developing self-awareness, getting to know yourself, will also help you to also recognise your limits. Take some time to reflect on what your ideal level of involvement and responsibility looks like.
Are there relationships or aspects in your life where you feel resentful?
Where in your life do you feel you need to enforce your boundaries more?
What kind of responsibility do you feel comfortable taking on?
What kind of support do you need from others?
You are allowed to ask for what you need. Healthy self-care boundaries are not about making any demands of people. You’re not required to over-explain yourself or apologise for setting boundaries.
But it is important to communicate with clarity, be assertive in expressing your feelings and expectations openly and respectfully. You want the other person to listen and hear what you are saying. Remember that you are requesting what you would like rather than what you don’t want or like.
It’s also important to remember in your communication that boundaries work both ways.
Practise saying no gracefully, but firmly.
You’ll often find me procrastinating whether “No” was the right decision. Am I’m letting them down by saying ‘No?’, “maybe I could just….” I’m sure these thoughts have come up for you also.
I find it beneficial to take a pause before I respond. I know if I listen to my gut, my internal warning system, it’s often an indication if what is being asked of me is sitting well!
Don’t feel bad about saying ‘No’. But be sure to phrase your ‘no’ in the politest way possible, but make sure it is non-negotiable! You don’t have to over-explain why ‘no’ is the answer.
To my fellow people pleasers, when you start to enforce your self-care boundaries, it’s very likely that you will experience discomfort. This discomfort has a habit of express itself through feelings of guilt, shame, or selfishness.
These emotions are often a result of our childhood where we’re taught that expressing our needs is a bad thing, it’s selfish. Unfortunately left unmanaged, this conditioning transcends into adulthood, where we find ourselves accepting unhealthy relationships in our personal and work life.
Take small steps, be kind and patience with yourself. Setting boundaries is a skill and like any other skill, the more you practice the easier it becomes. It’s about progress, not perfection.
Did you enjoy reading this article? You may also like…
Discover the power of Sankalpa in your daily life.
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Finding balance living a Yogic lifestyle.
During the article I mention the practices of Yoga Nidra and Meditation. We have free recordings of both these practices that you can access using the links below.
Ultimate relaxation technique – Free 20 minute Yoga Nidra Practice