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Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

Learn how to set boundaries in your personal health to improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing.

So, what do we mean when we talk about ‘boundaries’ and why are they so important?

Boundaries describe what separates us – where you begin, and I end, in a range of different ways. We all know how uncomfortable it can feel, if someone steps into your personal, physical space!

Maintaining healthy boundaries enables us to separate our ‘stuff’, feelings and actions from others, and can also apply to time and responsibilities. Deciding where our boundaries lie, affects how we use our time and energy.

When you choose to help another person, you might want to set some time boundaries, for example:

  • Are you happy to receive phone calls any time of day or after 9am and before 6pm?
  • When will you respond to e-mails – week days only, within 3 days, within a week?
  • What does someone you’re helping need to know about your own health and care needs or caring responsibilities?

Naming your limits.

Thinking about what energises you and what drains you, will help you recognise your limits.

Take a moment to think about…

  • What can you tolerate and accept when working with others?
  • What makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed?
  • When working with others, it’s important to listen to your feelings and check for any discomfort. Being overwhelmed and overburdened in a helping relationship can lead to feelings of resentment. Healthy boundaries and knowing your limits can help prevent that happening.
  • What time do you need to maintain your own life?
  • Your family life?
  • How much time can you realistically spend supporting someone else?

Take a moment to think about these questions and what is going to work for you. It is better to start small and build up than make a big commitment and then find that you don’t have time to do what you’ve said you’ll do. Your answers will help you explain what’s possible to other people so they know what you can and cannot do.

Give yourself permission to set your own limits. Only you can do this and, remember, boundaries are a sign of self-respect. If you look after yourself, you’ll have the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to ‘be there’ for others. Support is also important for you. Where can you ask for support?

Are there any useful questions you’d add here?

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