Mastering Mental Health: How to Establish and Maintain Boundaries for a Balanced Life

By Rhiannon Novelli, MSW Candidate with UNCW

When was the last time you felt forced to agree to something you did not want or had no time to do? Have you had an incident lately where you felt pressure to do something you simply did not have the energy for? Are you feeling burnt out, exhausted, or extremely tired in going about your daily routineboundaries in relationships or responsibilities? If so, chances are you could benefit from stronger boundaries in your life. More than simply creating new boundaries, they need to also be enforced in order to reap the benefits that come with them. In this blog we will discuss how you can establish and stick to boundaries in order to take back your life.

What is a Boundary?

A boundary is a limit that we set within a relationship. It is all the ‘yes’ and ‘nos’ – what you want and don’t want. Another good rule of thumb is a limit that allows for supportive connection. When we think about it like that, it can take away some of the negative connotation society associates with the act and difficulty of creating boundaries. Boundaries show the end of one entity and the beginning of another. Creating a clear boundary limit in various areas of our lives enables you to embrace deeper and healthier relationships.

Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of setting a boundary.

Setting a boundary:

  • puts you FIRST!
  • advocates for and helps others understand your needs
  • keeps you safe and healthy
  • decreases your stress
  • increases your ability to implement self-care strategies
  • improves your relationships with others
  • promotes autonomy– the ability for you to make your own decision!

Where can I set a boundary?

Think to yourself about the various groups of people present in your life. This can be people at work, romantic partners, family members, clients, your women's empowerment hairdresser– even the person making door-to-door cold calls. There are a LOT of people we interact with on a daily basis and boundaries come up with all of them.

Think a little deeper about where it’s possible to see a blur of these responsibilities or a lack of definitive limits between yourself and these people. Maybe your boss asks for too much of your personal time outside of work. Perhaps a parent from school takes too long to pick up their child from your house time and time again, cutting into the rest of your schedule.

Boundaries can even surface within ourselves. Think of your technology or social media use. Have you ever given yourself a time limit to scroll and the next time you look you’ve easily surpassed them? Another boundary can be related to your emotions. Consider how long it’s been since you allowed yourself the grace and mental space to process difficult feelings and sentiments.

You may already be familiar with physical boundaries, as it relates to the proximity between you and another person. Here are five other types of boundaries you may not have considered:

  • Sexual
    • This involves your comfort level and consent to sexual acts or conversations.
    • “I want to wait to have sex until I am ready.”
  • Intellectual
    • This involves your thoughts, values, and beliefs
    • “I understand we have different views on this topic. Let’s talk about this another time when we have the capacity to fully hear each other.”
  • Emotional
    • This involves protecting your feelings
    • “When I share my feelings on this topic with you I feel criticized and invalidated. I only feel comfortable sharing with you when I feel respected.”
    • “I need space to be able to think about how I feel.”
  • Material
    • This involves physical belongings, money, property, etc.
    • “I can lend you this outfit, but I need it back on Saturday.”
    • “I am unable to lend you any more money.”
  • Time 
    • This involves the activities we spent doing that often align with our values
    • “I can only stay for an hour.”
    • “I have to leave at ____.”

Improve your relationships counseling in Wilmington, NCTake a minute to think about what these boundaries (could) look like in your life.

Want to go deeper and learn how to make these a reality in your life? Get started now with therapy at LMV Counseling.