Healthy boundaries are essential to your well-being. Establishing them can be tough, though. You may worry that putting your needs first may alienate loved ones in your life. But, taking care of yourself is worth prioritizing, and healthy boundaries can help you and your loved ones, friends, and people in your life feel safe. Here a few tips on setting healthy boundaries so you can thrive.
Take stock of your physical health
The way you feel physically can be a sounding alarm for when your boundaries are getting tested or stretched too thin for comfort. Take stock in how your body feels, and if your body is showing signs of distress, you know that you need to create a stronger boundary between you and the situation or person.
“Notice if you feel your jaw tighten or your fists clench. Maybe you start to squirm, or you break into a sweat. Perhaps you feel it in your throat or stomach? Whatever the cue, honor what your body tells you and take some time to explore your discomfort and understand the arising boundary,” according to Calm.com.
Exercise your right to decline a request
Saying no when it serves your mental health, professional goals, and/or physical well-being is a smart move and a great way to create a clear boundary. Even if you love to help in any way you can and dislike saying “no,” in the long run, respectfully declining a request can better serve you and the person asking. Don’t let feelings of guilt dissuade you from taking care of yourself.
“If you do not want to do something, say ‘no.’ If you focus your time, energy, and resources on the activities and people that have value to you, you will develop more self-respect and enthusiasm for the activities you decide to take on,” according to Constance Scharff Ph.D and writer for PyschologyToday.com.
Stay firm in your decisions with loved ones
Wavering or waffling will confuse you and everyone around you. What’s the point of setting a boundary you don’t or can’t keep? Only you can create an emotional boundary for yourself, and only you can keep it in place. Going back on your decision can harm what you know will support your health and peace of mind.
“Setting boundaries but not following through lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. Don’t make any exceptions to your boundaries without thinking about it carefully. Otherwise, you may find yourself compromising on things that aren’t acceptable to you,” warns WebMD.com.
Let boundaries change when needed
A boundary isn’t an immovable line in the sand. Once you create one, it doesn’t need to be forever locked in stone, unwieldy and impenetrable. Just as you grow and change, so can the boundaries you create to stay healthy, happy, and calm.
“Our boundaries will change for different people, and they may shift over time based on the conditions of your life and the evolution of a relationship. It’s crucial to check in with yourself to ensure that your relational rules feel good for you,” according to Calm.com.
Boundaries can help you create space for your health, confidence, and peace of mind to take root and grow. Consider what you need and implement guidelines to support those needs.