Why You Need To Set Personal Boundaries For Self Care

personal boundaries for self care

I talk very regularly about self-care and setting boundaries and make no mistake, you need to set personal boundaries for self care. It’s an act of preserving your mental and physical health.

And it’s not something you should ever really feel guilty about.

Yes, there’s a very good chance you will feel guilty at some point because you are saying no to people about doing something that they’re asking you to do.

But to be fair, I think in most cases feeling guilty about saying no is usually a sign that you’re a caring person, rather than you’re being selfish.

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Personal Boundaries

Boundaries in this context are where you put a barrier or limit between you and someone or something else that you know is going to drain your mental and physical energy.

In this context, it’s a case of putting that in place to preserve your mental and physical health, or even enhance your mental and physical health.

It allows you the chance to recharge and recover from whatever it might be draining you, or maybe even not get drained by it in the first place.

The problem is that we do tend to worry about being selfish. We do feel guilty and we often feel like we’re letting down the people that are asking us to do something.

But if anything, setting boundaries is an act of putting yourself in a position where you can be present and can be your best for the people that want us there.

So to some extent, you should probably feel more guilty for not looking after yourself.

What Kind Of Personal Boundaries Can You Put In Place?

So what kind of boundaries are we talking about here?

Here are a few examples.

Saying no to things you don’t want to do, or don’t think you’ll have the energy to do is the first one that comes to mind.

Turning down after work drinks with your colleagues because you’re too tired if you’re working in an office is a great example.

Putting limits on things can also be a kind of boundary.

Say you’re going out somewhere where, you know that you don’t want to go, if you can set yourself a time limit or agree on a time limit with whoever you’re going with, it gives you some element of control over what can be a very draining situation.

And maintaining control of your availability. I’m not great with replying to messages in the first place, so this probably isn’t the best example. But with almost any and every conversation I have via any kind of messenger app, I very rarely reply right away, just because I want to keep that sense of control and not set the expectation that if they send me something, I’ll be on standby to reply.

That doesn’t mean I’m trying to sort of leave them in suspense or leave them on read or anything like that.

It’s just because I know what my social battery is like. I know that it’s very easy for me to go down rabbit holes and I just need to try and keep a level of control.

I’ll allocate this amount of time at this point during the day to reply to messages.

Also in most cases, if someone needs an instant reply or it’s an emergency, they’ll probably try and contact me more than one way and will usually involve calling me as well.

One of the reasons we often feel selfish or guilty is because it can feel like something new. It can feel like alien territory.

But let me give you an example of why it’s important.

Why Personal Boundaries For Self Care Are Important

Say you’ve just got home from a long day at work and your partner is keen on going out for dinner. But you’re completely burnt out and just want to stay at home and relax.

Now you can go, you can end up being burnt out and stressed and irritated, and both of you have a rubbish evening.

Or you can say you are literally dead on your feet, so maybe not go and then do something else instead, and then make up for it another time. So instead you might do something like ordering a takeaway and enjoying a movie on the sofa together at night.

And then you might arrange something special to go on another day when you feel like you have more energy and you feel that you can be fully present.

And yes, it sounds a little bit selfish, but then think about which one would your partner prefer in the long run – a stressful meal where neither of you really enjoy yourselves or a meal, maybe not that same night, but where you’re both relaxed and present and having a great time.

You Can Set Boundaries And Still Compromise

It is also possible to set boundaries and still compromise.

When I talked about examples, I gave the example of setting limits.

And that’s something that I’ve gotten very, very comfortable with doing relatively recently. So meeting people somewhere in the middle of what they want and what I want, but still, have that level of control that I’m not going to be completely burnt out or exhausted by it.

A classic example in my case is if someone wants to go out for dinner and I’m tired, then I’ll say, “okay, fine, but we need to go out at this time. So I can be back by this time”.

That does sound a little bit selfish. But when I think about how much something like that might drain me and how irritable or how stressed or how just unengaged I’ll be by the end of that, it makes more sense for everyone involved to just compromise that little bit.

So… Boundaries

Alright, let’s sum up on boundaries.

Don’t feel guilty.

The people that you feel guilty about possibly letting down would probably much rather have you fully present at another time.

Make sure you have some boundaries or limits.

And meeting someone somewhere in the middle or a middle ground is a good way of keeping some level of control and some level of boundaries in a situation that you might otherwise find exhausting or uncomfortable.

personal boundaries for self care

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