5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries

Do you find yourself constantly burnt out — from work or your social life?

Are you always feeling overwhelmed?

Is saying “yes” your default?

Are you scared to tell people “no”? might have a problem with setting boundaries, my friend.

People-pleasers, or simply, people who like to put others before themselves, typically have trouble setting boundaries. That’s not to say it isn’t a good thing to put others first – but what I’m suggesting is doing this in moderation. You can help and care for others while also setting boundaries so that when the time comes to take care of yourself, you have the capacity to do so.

When you’re so burnt out and overwhelmed by doing things for other people — whether it’s taking on extra projects non-stop at work, or attending social events that you don’t feel like you have the emotional capacity for because you don’t want to upset your friends — you can’t take care of yourself.

Setting boundaries takes work and practice if you aren’t used to doing so — so we’re here to help.

Here are 5 ways you can set healthy boundaries.

1. Get real with yourself

You might not even realize that you’re lacking boundaries until it’s too late. Take a step back to be introspective. Ask yourself those questions at the beginning of this post. The reason you might be feeling so exhausted is that you’re simply doing too much. Which brings us to the next step...

2. Choose your battles

Alright — battles is a big word but, you know what I mean. Of course, you still want to do things for other people. But that doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing someone asks of you, whether it’s at work, in your family, with your friends, or your partner. What are the most important things? What’s not as important? Distinguish between the two and don’t put too much on your plate.

3. Stay away from people who take advantage of you

Unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of your kindness. Think about it: do you have a friend who calls you multiple times a week complaining about their life because they know you’ll always pick up, but they won’t even give you one minute to vent? Do you have a family member who is always asking you to babysit, even when it’s inconvenient for you, because they know you’re too nice to say no? Do you have a coworker who will always pass extra work along to you, because they know you’ll do it? While you might not be able to physically stay away from these people, you can mentally distance yourself by setting boundaries.

4. Communicate your boundaries

Now, here’s the hard part. Once you’ve decided which “battles” you’d like to pick, or you’ve determined who’s taking advantage of you, you have to communicate. They won’t stop unless you take action.

Here are some examples of things you can say:
  • “I feel like I’ve had way too much on my plate, and the tasks (or emotional labor, whatever it is) you’ve been presenting me with have been taking a toll on my mental health. I need to take some time to make myself a priority to take care of myself.”
  • “I wanted to talk about something with you — I feel like you’ve been asking a lot of me for a while, and since I love you and don’t want to let you down, I always say ‘yes.’ However, this is taking a toll on me, and I need to start taking on less and saying 'no' sometimes so that I can take care of myself.”

Those are just two examples. You can use those as inspiration or templates and change as you see fit. It can even be helpful to practice saying these things aloud if you’re planning on conveying this in person or over the phone.

The people who genuinely love you and care about you will understand. If someone gives you a hard time after a heartfelt and honest discussion, well, you might want to re-evaluate that relationship.

5. Get comfortable saying no

Saying “no” is not easy. But the more you say it, the more you set boundaries, the more you stand up for yourself, the easier it will get. Take it from someone who definitely used to be a
chronic pushover. With time, saying “no” will feel empowering and awesome instead of terrifying.

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to setting boundaries, which will build up your self-respect, and ultimately, others’ respect for you and your time.

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