Updated: Jan 3
The New Year is here and no doubt health, exercise and nutrition are on the minds of millions of Americans. While it is an ideal time to start fresh, begin a new habit, there is something you ought to consider before setting your goals into motion….you are going to have to put some boundaries into place.
You see without boundaries those goals and intentions may easily fall by the wayside. To support you, I have put together some practical steps and tips for effective boundary setting. Before heading there, let's take a closer look at what exactly boundaries are.
A boundary is a limit. It could be a physical limit (e.g. such as a workload) a social (how much chit chat you have in you before you need a break) or a mental limit (your tolerance level for taking on problems, particularly ones others can solve for themselves). Now that you know what a boundary is, reflect on (and maybe write down your thoughts) on the following:
1. What are my needs? It will be difficult for you to set boundaries if you don’t know what your needs are. For example, are you someone who needs peace and quiet at the beginning or end of your day? Do you require more sleep than you are getting? Or do you need an extra hand completing some tasks? Take a moment to journal or reflect on what comes to mind.
2. Clarify your needs. Now spend a few minutes further clarifying what you mean by making your needs more specific. For example, if you need more sleep then you might need to go to bed earlier, cut back on your hours at work, curb technology, purchase block out shades, create a wind down routine (e.g. taking a bath) before bed. Jot down a few ideas now. Then select two or three that you would like to implement (e.g. shutting down technology by 8 p.m.).
3. Ask for your needs. If you live with others, it probably is a good idea to let them in on your plan. Taking the example of needing more sleep you might state to your partner that you are looking to get more sleep and would appreciate their willingness to turn down the television, put the kids to bed one night a week, or eat dinner a bit earlier. Or you might delegate a few tasks to a co-worker or family member.
Now that you have broken down the process of boundary setting into more manageable steps, it is time for you to commit and own the process. Your level of commitment let’s people know you mean business, the things you have in mind are important to you and something you value. Here are three additional tips which can help:
1. Say thank you. Always and I mean always acknowledge and appreciate when someone respects and honors your boundaries. It will sound something like, thank you for putting the kids to bed early, it really helped me get to bed early, I appreciate it.
2. Be consistent. While it might not be possible to get to bed early every night, you will measure consistency by more often than not. For example, if you are looking to lose weight, then more often than not, you will exercise (e.g. five out of seven days).
3. Process your emotions. It will be difficult for you to set boundaries if you are holding back or suppressing emotions of guilt, shame, or hurt. Unprocessed emotions have a way of resurfacing and if you chose to ignore them don’t be surprised if this type of reaction begins to dismantle the boundaries you worked so hard to put in place.
Taking just five minutes a day to process your emotions (e.g. breathing slowly through your nose, inhale inflating your abdominal and exhale deflating your abdominal) will help you and if you are looking for more insight on how emotions can heal anxiety, be sure to check out my new book, Emotional Detox for Anxiety.
Remember, your emotions matter, processing them matters more.
About Sherianna Boyle
Sherianna Boyle is the author of Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Releasing Toxicity & Energizing Joy, Emotional Detox for Anxiety and six other books. She is an adjunct Psychology Professor, seasoned yoga instructor and founder of Emotional Detox Coaching, the C.L.E.A.N.S.E Method™ and C.L.E.A.N.S.E Yoga.™ Sherianna has been featured expert in over eighty articles including Psychology Today, Yoga Journal, Prevention, Parade Magazine, First Women. Her Emotional Detox retreats and workshops have been featured at renowned centers such as Kripalu Health & Yoga and 1440 Multiversity. Sherianna is a 2020 Thought Leader