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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Setting Boundaries: A Form of Self-Care

 Self-care, which can include setting boundaries, is an important part of leading a mentally healthy life. But unlike more intuitive aspects of self-care like healthy eating and exercise, setting healthy boundaries isn’t something most people understand. For more people to experience greater well-being and fulfillment, they must learn about healthy boundaries” 

-Joaquín Selva

Boundary Setting is a Form of Self-Care

Personal boundaries serve as guidelines that we create in our lives to identify reasonable, safe, and permissible ways we desire to be treated by others. Boundaries are basically the rules that we live by in relationship with others, in what we expect from them and what we expect from ourselves. They often include ideas about personal space, whether we feel comfortable in our ability to say “yes” and “no” to requests, and inform our understanding of how much information is appropriate to share with one another. 


Setting boundaries is important because it allows us to communicate our needs and expectations in order to feel respected and supported in our relationships. Boundaries are not universal - they are unique to each of us, as we all have varying comfort levels depending on our personal preferences and histories. Identifying and establishing boundaries can help us to validate our identity, define our distinctiveness, and communicate our rules for what looks like healthy engagement in our lives. 

Types of Boundaries

There are several different types of boundaries including emotional, physical, social, and even digital.

1. Physical boundaries

This includes your need for personal space, your comfort level with touch, and tending to your physical needs like needing to rest, eat food, and drink water.

Examples: “I am not a big hugger” or “Please don’t go into my room without asking”

2. Emotional Boundaries

This is all about tuning into your needs in the present moment, and respecting and honoring your feelings and energy level. Emotional boundaries are important to express so that others have an understanding of what’s going on in your internal world. Equally important is being respectful of other’s worlds as well. 

Examples: “Do you have time to talk? I’m having a tough time and could use a friend” or “When I’m sharing something with you that I’m excited about, and you respond by telling me how it could be better, I feel like shutting down.”

3. Social Boundaries

Your time is valuable, and it is important to protect how it is utilized at work, home, and socially. This involves prioritizing what’s important to you, and avoiding overcommitting yourself. 

Examples: “I can come to the event, but only for an hour” or “Sundays are for family time, I won’t be able to make it”

4. Digital Boundaries

Our relationship with technology requires just as many rules and boundaries in order for us to have a healthy engagement with life. Just as in relationships with other people, this means setting limits with our time, balancing how much we choose to share online, and can even include how much we physically interact with our devices. 

Examples: “I set my phone down an hour before bed” or “We eat dinner at the table, not in front of the tv”


Our boundaries can —and usually do— vary from relationship to relationship. For example, the guidelines for someone’s romantic relationships will most likely be different than the ones expected from their professional relationships. 


Equally varied will be our guidelines for our relationships with our devices, although it is important to consider how we may find it easy to set boundaries with others and difficult to regulate ourselves when it comes to the screen in our hands. 


Breaking Boundaries

If we do not establish or enforce our personal boundaries, issues may arise in our relationships. These issues lie on a spectrum that can range from awkwardness or discomfort (such as a roommate eating your snacks) to abuse and safety violations. When boundaries are ignored, you may feel unsafe, disrespected, and invalidated in your relationships. 


Some common experiences from lack of boundary setting include:

  • Feeling guilty when you say no: Overcommitting or overextending yourself for fear of letting others down can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. 
  • Staying silent: Not sharing your opinion or speaking up when you are uncomfortable may be an indicator to reflect on your values and establish some boundaries. 
  • Lack of privacy: Feeling like you have no personal space and must share all aspects of yourself with your partner/family/friend, etc. may leave you feeling like you don’t have the capacity to be your own person. 

Without clear boundaries of how we expect to be treated in our relationships, lines can be blurred, which can lead to unfulfilling and unhealthy relationship dynamics. 

Life Skills Learned at The Haven at Pismo

Truly, learning to set boundaries in your relationships is an important aspect of your road to recovery. Whether you learn these skills as a part of our life skills programming, or in family sessions with your loved one, The Haven prioritizes teaching you the skills you need to have good self-care practices so that you can renew to your best today! Call today for more information!