Why Setting Boundaries Is Important For Your Health
Setting healthy and clear boundaries in your life is essential for self-care and well-being.
Boundaries involve clear borders between other people and us or space between us and our day-to-day experiences. They help establish our identity, differentiate our individuality, and help us indicate what we will and will not hold ourselves accountable for. Boundaries we set are often emotional or psychological but can be physical as well.
Setting boundaries has many benefits. By setting healthy boundaries in our everyday experiences and relationships, we protect our mental health. For example, boundaries in relationships can help you protect your rights and free you against different forms of manipulation or abuse.
Healthy boundaries can contribute to a range of improvements in your mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. They can boost your self-esteem and prevent harming feelings of self-doubt, sadness, and shame for allowing others to maltreat you.
They also contribute to good emotional health, help us develop identity, and avoid burnout. Healthy boundaries can help us influence other people’s behavior since they allow us to let others know how we expect them to treat us.
Setting boundaries can lead to:
- Better communication
- Greater protection of your rights
- Improved self-awareness
- Lesser resentment and anger
- Better stress management
- Greater ability to constructively solve conflicts
- Improved assertiveness
- More self-compassion and compassion
- Better self-care
- An increased feeling of safety
- Improved relationships
- A feeling that you are valued and accepted
Be self-compassionate. Learning how to treat yourself with self-compassion and kindness is one of the essential aspects of boundary setting. Self-compassion can protect you against unproductive feelings of shame, grief, and resentment.
Identify your needs and set SMART goals. Learn to prioritize tasks and manage your time. Also, to shield your emotional and physical well-being, learn to protect your time and allow yourself enough rest. Don’t feel guilty about asking your partner, children, and other family members to respect your time alone.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness and relaxation can help you manage stress, boost your mood, and lift optimism. Mindfulness practice is an excellent strategy to identify and observe automatic negative thoughts that trigger anxiety and let go of them.
Learn assertiveness. People who lack assertiveness skills have difficulties saying “no” and setting boundaries. Assertiveness involves confidence and self-assurance. It is about speaking for yourself respectfully, without being aggressive or submissive.
Learning to communicate without either passively accepting or being aggressive can boost your communication skills and help you constructively manage conflicts.
Seek professional guidance. If you struggle with setting boundaries, mental health counseling can be an answer. A skilled counselor can help you practice assertiveness, identify and set healthy boundaries, work on your false beliefs and replace them with more constructive ones.
Boundaries in our relationships are necessary as they let others know how we expect to be treated. Also, healthy boundaries ensure that relationships are mutually respectful.
We often believe that people will respect our boundaries because it is tacitly assumed what is suitable and acceptable. However, this is not always the case. In toxic relationships, personal boundaries are weak, or they don’t exist whatsoever, allowing people to violate each other’s boundaries.
For example, a relationship with a narcissistic partner who consistently intrudes on your boundaries can diminish your self-respect and cause you to question your reality. Weak boundaries in toxic relationships can cause you to feel confused, anxious, and emotionally drained.
Emotional, mental, and physical boundaries in relationships help us to feel safe and respected. They can teach us how to say no, allowing us to focus on our needs and things that matter to us.
People who don’t set boundaries by saying “yes” to every demand are likely to turn into people-pleasers who seek approval from others to feel valued and worthy. Weak boundaries can cause you to feel overwhelmed and stressed in relationships with others.
Learning to say “no” without further explanations enables you to clarify with others what they can expect from you and what you are comfortable with, preventing you from and being taken advantage of and hurt.
Technology has become an ingrained part of our day-to-day lives. The amount of screen-time has significantly increased for billions of adults and children worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research shows a strong link between too much exposure to digital media and mental health issues. A non-stop connectivity is linked to increased stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health problems.
Setting boundaries toward technology helps you practice digital detox, allowing you to take breaks from using your social media and tech devices throughout the day.
Studies show that constant connectivity prevents us from feeling content and happy with our lives. Social media fosters our fear of missing out (FOMO), triggering feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
The social pressure from media may cause you to constantly compare yourself to others, leading to unhappiness and discontent.
However, you can set boundaries towards the digital world the same way you do it in the real world. For example, when using social media, mindfully choose the content you share, who you follow, etc. Also, limit your device use during the day and avoid using them before bedtime. If you work from home, designate different areas of your home as ‘work/study’ and ‘relax’ spaces to avoid becoming overwhelmed by juggling work and life.
A digital detox can benefit your mood and well-being. Setting boundaries towards internet use can be a great way to take a break from technology and focus on more important things in your life.
Many issues in the workplace arise from poor boundaries. Asking your coworkers or managers not to make unreasonable demands on your time, efforts, or emotions is a crucial aspect of boundary setting at work.
Consequences of not setting boundaries at work typically include stress, interpersonal conflicts and communication issues, emotional distress, and burnout, affecting other aspects of your life too. Poor boundaries at work often lead to low motivation and job satisfaction and expose you to bullying and harassment in the workplace.
Healthy boundaries are a sign of good self-care. They help us experience less stress and anxiety and promote self-respect and well-being. Setting boundaries also leads to healthy relationships and more sincere communication, as it encourages assertiveness and self-esteem. Boundaries help us feel respected by ourselves and others, nurturing our mental health and happiness.