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Setting Good Boundaries Create Positive Health Outcomes

By: Dr. Dalite Sancic, LAC, MS

Creating and sticking to personal and professional boundaries is known to decrease stress levels, increase energy levels and enhance our ability to make clear decisions. The stress that can come from having unclear boundaries can be immense. It can cause confusion in relationships and increase the amount of anger, resentment, annoyance and guilt we feel when the waters are muddied. The amount of energy one uses when being constantly over-extended can be exhausting. Allowing for good boundaries re-energizes us and increases personal satisfaction.

Difficulty making decisions can happen when there are no boundaries set. This could look like putting the opinions and needs of others above your own, thus confusing your ability to make the best decisions for yourself.

So what are boundaries? They are self-set guidelines a person creates to protects their emotional and physical safety. This enables knowing what behavior is reasonable for others towards them, as well as them to another person.

These limits allow us to live in a space that feels safe and peaceful, have time for enjoyable experiences, and to create quality relationships. Setting a boundary enables us to make choices that are healthy for ourselves.

Create boundaries

Give yourself permission to set personal limits with people. It can be worrisome to cause friends or loved ones to be hurt or upset by setting limits or boundaries. For many, love and approval are tied to pleasing others, and setting limits means taking a risk that you will not be loved or accepted. Others may worry they are being selfish by setting limits. It is not selfish to take care of yourself and your needs while considering the needs of others. It makes you more effective and less burned out from helping if you are able to set some limits.

Identify your own limits. No one will set limits for you, and good people tend to be given more responsibilities. It is your responsibility to know how much you are willing to handle, put up with or tolerate. If you don’t set the limit, others will set it for you or ignore that you have limits. Research has shown that people with less effective limits or boundaries are more likely to violate the boundaries of others.

Be selective about when, where, how, why and with whom you share information. It is important to consider the reality of the relationship you have with a person. If you have a co-worker with whom you feel connected but with whom you do not communicate outside work, then they are not close enough to be a confidante. Sharing personal information in the workplace can create problems if you reveal too much.

Communicate your needs if you want them met. As much as we would love it, there is no one on Earth who can anticipate our every need. We need to own and voice our needs, we cannot hold people to an unrealistic expectation. Lastly, we cannot assume someone knows what they “should” do or what “should” happen based on past experience or past discussions. People do need reminders sometimes. Try not to hold it against them and think about how others may not have the same values or expectations as you.

Here are some boundaries you should consider setting to create a more healthful life:

— Take a screen break. Turn off your notifications on your cellular device, or leave it in another room altogether. You will find this freedom is a way to support your energy in a really powerful way.

— Do not engage in conversations that do not pertain to you. This is usually a waste of energy and often leads to negativity in some way.

— Prioritize your health. Whether you are choosing to spend 20 minutes moving your body or you’re eating in a way that fuels you, remember this is the one body we have in this lifetime, so treat it well.

— Don’t offer to do something for someone else unless you mean it. Don’t feel guilty about it but only do what you can.

— Give yourself time before you respond to anything. You are allowed to think about it, process it. One way to put it is, “let me think about it, and I will get back to you.”

Remember that effective boundary setting is a process, it takes time to feel confident. Speak your boundary clearly, in a calm manner and with as few words as possible. Remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you’re setting. Learning and honing this skill increases our quality of life, and allows us to live with purpose in a way that supports our energetic needs.

Dalite Sancic, DAOM, L.Ac, MS, is a doctor of East Asian medicine at Moon Brook Medicine

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