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Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are necessary for online and offline practices.

Setting boundaries and honoring them are essential practices to protect your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Because we spend more time online to engage with social life, school, work, and entertainment, it’s easy for work/life balance lines to blur. If you’re on your phone to relax with a meditation app, it’s easy to scroll over for a quick check of your email inbox. If you’re on your computer to study for tomorrow’s chemistry final exam, it’s super convenient to check the latest news from your friends.

Boundaries are also necessary for offline practices – meal time, sleep hygiene, and alone time. They all deserve to be honored and protected.

Without these boundaries, we risk being unproductive, overwhelmed, and burnt out, all of which can negatively impact our health. That’s why it’s important to understand the three types of boundaries, why you are worthy of prioritizing and maintaining them, and how to put them in place. The first is physical boundaries, which might involve removing yourself from a situation, putting your phone in another room, creating distance between yourself and someone else, making sure your work zone is clutter-free, turning your phone on Do Not Disturb, etc. With spoken boundaries, you may ask a friend to respect your alone time, communicate with a family member about an action that offended you, set clear expectations with employers or employees, or speak up for what you need. Finally, we need to set energetic boundaries. These are abstract intentions that include ignoring self-limiting beliefs, deciding to avoid drama/gossip/judgment, prioritizing your personal self-care above others, or choosing to conduct your day with peace and optimism over stress and anxiety.

Combining all three boundary types ensures that you are prioritizing yourself, protecting your health, and showing up as the best version of yourself. And everyone deserves to establish, maintain, and respect their boundaries.

Prioritizing yourself is the least selfish thing you can do. For you and the people you care about, you must take care of yourself first. Not only do you deserve to live your best life, but people deserve interactions with the best version of you too!

Pouring from an empty cup increases the level of stress and overwhelms you. By setting boundaries and sticking to them, you will ensure that you feel good, and your own cup is filled so that you have plenty to give to others.

The way that you treat yourself is the example for how others will treat you. If you allow yourself or others to push them or break your boundaries, others will not respect your self-care practices and healthy boundaries. When you establish and decide upon the way that you want to be treated – and you treat yourself that way – others around you will take note.

Here are a few of my favorite boundaries to benefit you and your health:

  1. No phone right when you wake up. Your mind is the most susceptible to ideas as you’re entering and exiting sleep, so don’t fill it with news that stresses you out, social media that makes you jealous, or emails that make you anxious. Instead, keep your phone down for 30 minutes after waking. You might even want to invest in a stand-alone alarm clock to make this easier.
  2. Create a morning routine that’s enjoyable and peaceful and sets you up for a calm and wonderful day. Some of my favorite morning activities include stretching, journaling, meditating, visualizing, walking, getting outside, reading, and making a yummy breakfast.
  3. Avoid screens while eating. Your mealtime is sacred, and is should be peacefully enjoyed without work, screens, homework, or tv. This ensures that you are eating mindfully and allowing for proper digestion. If it feels awkward to eat without the tv or your computer on, try listening to some music instead.
  4. Communicate your self-care needs to your loved ones. People won’t be aware of your boundaries unless you tell them what they are. This allows you to confidently take care of yourself and empower your loved ones to support you in these practices.
  5. Understand your physical and mental limits. Saying no to an obligation or commitment is crucial in maintaining healthy boundaries and solid self-care. To know when to say yes and no, it’s important to understand your personal limits. How much can you handle? How much relaxation time do you need in a day? What do you want your work hours to be? When you first understand and establish these limits, you’ll be better equipped to align with your needs.
  6. Use 50/10 timers. Multi-tasking is a huge hurdle to being productive. Instead, try concentrating on only one task/subject for 50 minutes. At the 50-minute mark, take a 10-minute break. Repeat this pattern for a super focused and productive day.
  7. Schedule in “you time” first, or your day will be filled by the needs and wants of others. When you schedule or plan your exercise, bedtimes, relaxation, social connections, meal prepping, etc., you will ensure that your needs are met.
  8. Remove yourself from situations that feel low vibe. Only you know what feels good or bad to you, and only you can be responsible for your health and well-being. If a conversation or environment is causing stress, leave or create distance. If a certain person is making you feel upset, try your best to excuse yourself or limit contact. Taking care of yourself in this way is a sign of strength and self-love, and you deserve it!
  9. No phone right before bed. The way you end your day can impact your sleep, stress, and mood tomorrow. Fill the time with a loving evening routine, such as candles, reading, talking to loved ones, drinking warm herbal tea, stretching, or meditating. Beginning and ending your day in peace and relaxation is best for your holistic well-being.
  10. Begin and end each day with gratitude. Committing to gratitude protects you from stress, anxiety, and negativity. Although stress will come into our days, by refocusing on gratitude, you have the power to direct your mind in a more positive and loving direction.

Go ahead and brainstorm boundaries that you’d like to establish in your life. I encourage you to journal about the current practices that are working for you, where you feel your boundaries are being crossed, and the areas in where a new one needs to be established. Ask yourself if a physical, spoken, and/or energetic boundary will serve you best, and write down what you expect of yourself and others. Remember that practice makes perfect, and it can take a few weeks to establish a solid habit. Let us know how your boundary setting goes in the comments below or on social!

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