Setting Boundaries: A Key Skill for Self-Care
Healthy relationships at home and work are a priority for a healthy, well-balanced individual. And one of the best ways of having a healthy relationship is by setting up boundaries. Personal boundaries are the emotional, mental, and physical limits we set up to protect ourselves, as well as assert our individualism while realizing the same in others.
Having a strong sense of self helps you identify with who you are and your likes and dislikes. Otherwise, you’ll just derive your sense of worth from others’ opinion of you. Those who haven’t set up strong personal boundaries suffer from fear of rejection, of being not good enough. And they usually attract those who disrespect and take advantage of them.
If you can’t seem to say ‘no’ to others, feel constantly overwhelmed and get sick more than you’d like to remember, chances are you’re not setting up boundaries very well.
Learning to trust your instincts and respecting your strengths, abilities and individuality takes practice. It also takes strength to stand up for what you want. But it’s a crucial part of enjoying a positive self-image. When you learn to stand up for yourself, you feel a strong sense of empowerment and confidence.
For women especially, it’s particularly hard to set boundaries. People tend to lean towards pleasing others because we want others’ approval. But for women, it’s tenfold that sometimes so much, so that it turns into a major dilemma.
Women are famous for making lists, and their needs are usually pushed further and further down the list to make room for what others want, thinking that if she puts herself first, she’ll be seen as selfish and an unfit mom. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.
When the main caregiver of the household has energy, clarity of thought and is in good mental and physical health, then everyone will be happier and better cared for.
Being assertive requires patience and persistence. When you assert your personal boundaries, you’re sending a clear signal that you respect your space and expect others to do the same. And the best way to do that is to create your very own self-care plan as a way of enhancing your health, managing stress levels and boost your self-esteem. In the medical world, self-care is defined as the actions that one would carry out for optimal health.
There are roughly 3 main self-care categories:
• Physical: the basic day-to-day activities of everyday living. Physical exercising and good sleep is also part of this category.
• Emotional: managing stress, being able to unplug from the pressures of work and home, finding time to be alone for relaxation and recharging.
• Spiritual: practicing mindfulness, volunteering, connecting with nature
When you take care of yourself, you refocus so you work smarter, not just harder without having anything to show for it. It also helps prevent you burning out and diminishes the negative side-effects of stress.
Here are some ways to practice self-care while fearlessly drawing up your personal space:
1. Make self-care a priority. Putting yourself first allows you to enjoy a more positive outlook on life, as well as more energy to get things done throughout the day for you and those around you. “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, coworker, or friend,” says psychologist and coach, Dana Gionta, Ph.D.
2. Be direct. If you’ve scheduled an hour for yourself to read, knit or do nothing, then stick to it no matter what. If something comes up, make it wait until your time is up. Same goes with people. That’s why it’s important to clearly name and state what the limits are of your personal boundary.
3. Keep a journal. Just writing down bullet points is cathartic. It’s a good way to deal with anxiety and stress.
4. Practice self-awareness by acknowledging your feelings.
5. Start small. Even as 3, 60-second breaks a day will do wonders for your health.
6. Be patient. Self-care should be fun, enjoyable, and definitely relaxing, so if it turns into a chore, try something else.
7. Send yourself reminders to take care of yourself on your smartphone. You can schedule texts to yourself even 2 years in advance. This way, you can never forget to take care of yourself no matter how hectic your life gets.