In today’s fast-paced world, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities and commitments, leaving little time for ourselves. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying yes to everything and neglecting our own needs. However, this constant giving without taking a break can have negative consequences on our mental health and wellbeing. That’s why setting boundaries and saying no is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and protecting our mental wellbeing.
In this blog, we will delve into the importance of setting boundaries and saying no for our mental health. We will explain how it affects our mental health when we don’t set boundaries, and provide practical tips to help establish healthy boundaries and feel comfortable saying no when necessary.
Whether you’re a people pleaser or struggle with prioritising your needs, we hope this blog provides valuable insights into the benefits of setting boundaries and empower you to prioritise your mental health.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are personal limits that define what we are willing to accept and what we are not. They set the parameters of our physical and emotional space, protecting our mental health and wellbeing. Boundaries can take many forms, including saying no to unreasonable demands, limiting time spent with toxic people, or setting aside time for self-care. In essence, boundaries help us create a healthy balance between our personal needs and the demands of the outside world.
Why are boundaries important?
Boundaries are essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life. They help us establish and maintain healthy relationships, prevent burnout and resentment, and protect our mental health and wellbeing.
Without boundaries, we may feel overwhelmed, stressed, taken advantage of and/or unable to manage our time and energy effectively. By setting boundaries, we can prioritise our needs, protect our time and energy, and create a healthy balance in life that promotes our overall health and happiness.
They help us to express to others what we think is acceptable or unacceptable and help us express our needs in an assertive but not an aggressive way. People with solid boundaries tend to have lower levels of stress and higher self-esteem.
Benefits of setting boundaries
Here are some benefits of setting boundaries in your life:
- Protecting your mental health and wellbeing.
- Promoting healthy relationships by establishing clear expectations and limits.
- Preventing burnout and exhaustion by prioritising your needs and time.
- Enhancing your self-esteem and self-respect by valuing your time and energy.
- Improving communication skills by expressing your needs and limits to others.
- Increasing productivity by eliminating distractions and focusing on important tasks.
- Reducing stress and anxiety by avoiding unnecessary commitments.
- Encouraging personal growth and development by making time for self-care and reflection.
- Enhancing your sense of control and autonomy over your life.
- Promoting a healthy work-life balance that supports your overall well-being.
- Feeling understood and accepted by friends and family.
- Your needs are met.
Examples of setting boundaries
A boundary can be something like asking someone to alter their behaviour, for example ‘I don’t like it when you shout, please can you talk to me calmly’.
It can also be something we do to protect ourselves, such as blocking someone’s number, leaving a room if it is making us feel uncomfortable or establishing boundaries with family members or friends regarding personal space and privacy.
Our individual boundaries may include saying no to social events or commitments that don’t align with your values or interests, or limiting your time spent with toxic people or those who drain your energy.
Boundaries also extend into our work lives. For instance, work boundaries might include establishing clear work hours and avoiding work-related tasks during personal time. Boundaries also include saying no to unreasonable demands or requests that go beyond your capabilities or availability – whether that be at work or in your personal life.
Designating time for self-care and prioritizing activities that promote your well-being.
Having clear and consistent boundaries means we show ourselves, and others, respect and helps us to be clear about our expectations.
What can we set boundaries around?
- Personal space
- Emotional energy
- Social media
- Material possessions or finances
- Morals and ethics
How do we set healthy boundaries?
Setting healthy boundaries can be challenging, especially if you’re used to putting other people’s needs before your own. However, with practice and patience, you can learn to establish and maintain healthy boundaries that support your wellbeing. Some ways to set healthy boundaries include identifying your needs and priorities, communicating clearly and assertively, learning to say no when necessary, avoiding people and situations that drain your energy, prioritising self-care, and seeking support when needed. It’s important to remember that setting boundaries is not selfish, but rather a necessary step towards maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life.
Signs of healthy boundaries
- You don’t feel guilty saying ‘no’.
- You don’t let others abuse you or exploit you.
- You can hold your ground when pressured.
- You’re not offended by others’ boundaries.
- You don’t feel responsible for other adults.
- You don’t take others criticism personally.
- You take responsibility for your own triggers.
- You respect others’ boundaries.
- You value your rights and feelings.
- You don’t need others to agree with you.
What if we don’t have healthy boundaries
Without boundaries, we may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, leading to burnout and potential physical health problems. Additionally, we may struggle with low self-esteem and difficulty communicating our needs and limits to others, leading to strained relationships and further stress.
If we have poor boundaries, we may think that expressing our needs is bad and selfish. Poor boundaries can lead to people taking advantage of us and put us at risk of settling into unhealthy relationships with family, friends, partners, or work colleagues. We need to learn to accept that there is some discomfort in setting healthy boundaries and be prepared to experience this.
An absence of healthy boundaries in adulthood can put us at risk of settling for unhealthy relationships that can lead to resentment, manipulation, and abuse.
Without prioritising self-care and establishing boundaries, we risk sacrificing our own wellbeing and happiness for the demands and expectations of others. Therefore, it’s important to recognise the benefits of setting healthy boundaries and take proactive steps to establish and maintain them in our daily lives.
Setting boundaries takes practice, if you are struggling to make sense of your boundaries, and this is causing you to experience thoughts of suicide, it may help to talk to one of our HOPELINE247 advisers. This can give you time and space to reflect on how heathy your boundaries are and how you can learn to say no and help to lower levels of stress and increase self-esteem.