Winter Self-Care Guide: Setting Boundaries  

Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people? It might be causing you more stress and anxiety than you think. Or, do you have a hard time switching “off” from work once you’re home? 

This week on A Healthier Michigan as we continue our self-care journey, we’re going to explore setting boundaries.  

While some forms of self-care are physical, like exercising, decluttering, getting good sleep and taking care of your skin; equally important are mental exercises like meditation and setting boundaries. 

Boundaries are a healthy part of relationships, whether it’s with friends, family or with colleagues at work. Boundaries are also important when it comes to how you spend your time. Establishing what you’re willing to do – and what you’re not willing to do – are important parts to maintaining your sense of self and self-worth.  

It can be too easy to get wrapped up what you can do versus what is best for your mental and physical health. Think about your day-to-day schedule: what is causing you extra stress or anxiety? Do you have time to take care of yourself, or are you putting all your time into others? Are you putting too much into work – leaving no time to spend with your family, no time to be present at meals, no time to care for yourself? 

Over time, without filling your own cup, it’s easy to feel exhausted and burnt out – which makes it easier to fall into behaviors that aren’t good for your health or well-being; like abusing alcohol, eating unhealthy meals or not exercising. 

Boundaries with family  

Family relationships are difficult to navigate – especially if you are caregiving for an older relative. It’s easy for feelings of guilt between family members to factor into the conversation, as there’s an unspoken sense of responsibility and attachment at play. But if your own health and well-being is suffering, it’s time to make a change. 

Communication is key. If arguments over politics or the news are a problem in your family at gatherings, express before everyone gathers that those topics are off-limits. If there’s a disagreement over money, consider engaging with a neutral third party to help come to a friendly conclusion. With the pandemic, there may be disagreements over personal health and comfort levels.  

Boundaries with friends  

We choose our friends – which is why it can be extremely hard to set boundaries with them. But at times, friends can take more from us than they mean to – like if they are always calling at the middle of the night, or constantly burdening you with their stresses and anxieties. It’s important to be there for your friends, but if their stresses are becoming your stresses and negatively affecting your life, it may be time to set a boundary. Set a time cap on your chats or restrict talking about certain subjects.  

Venting is a great way for someone to let out their stress – but don’t feel responsible for solving their problems or giving them a significant response. Sometimes the best part of having a friend is just having someone to talk to – not having someone who fixes everything.  

Boundaries with work  

Many people find it hard to set boundaries between their work and home life – especially now that work emails are available to us around-the-clock on our cell phones, and many people work from home. Read more here: 

Here are some tips to get started:  

  • Build downtime into your schedule  
  • Eliminate activities that sap your time and energy  
  • Get moving 
  • Get away, both physically and mentally 
  • Put your priorities in order

Each week during January and February 2022, we’ll be featuring a self-care technique to encourage you to try something new and make time for yourself this winter. Follow along on AHealthierMichigan.org. 

Winter Self-Care Guide Archive:

Photo credit: Getty Images

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