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Self-Care | Boundaries

April 18, 2020

Creating Healthy Boundaries
To Protect Yourself

(And Thrive) During Quarantine

If there’s one area of self-care that can be challenging it's how to set and protect our personal boundaries. Boundaries are about taking care of ourselves, being mindful of our limits, and asking for what we need. Communicating all this can be hard! It can be even harder and downright scary when we’re in quarantine and there is little room to make space for such conversations.

We must establish boundaries to help protect our time, our emotions, and to help us take better care of ourselves. Boundaries are not created to keep others out, but rather, they are invitations to bring others closer by having them show up in ways that keep us in mind and allow us to feel seen and understood! Communicating personal boundaries with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances is an undeniable act of self-care. You are worth it and those with whom you may be spending time with and sharing space must take you into account and adapt to better promote your wellbeing. 

With everyone needing to stay indoors due to the pandemic, it becomes more important now than ever before to honor and care for our needs by setting clear boundaries. Living in close quarters can tend to present a lot more opportunities to inadvertently get on one another's nerves. While it may require a lot of collaboration and patience to accommodate everyone's needs and flows, it is critical in order to establish a safe household that can honor everyone's experiences and responses to the overwhelming time. 

Personal boundaries can exist whether you’re quarantined with a special someone, a spouse, children, parents, roommates, or even if you’re isolated at home by yourself! Boundaries will take on many forms and each can serve as a unique opportunity to invite shared awareness, mutual compassion and understanding. Regardless of whether you are sharing your space physically or your connections are mainly over tech during the quarantine, you will benefit from getting curious about the boundaries that are present in your relationships. It is important to remember that boundaries don't have to be walls that block others out, nor should they be a constant stressor or burden in your life.  All types of boundaries are necessary means of protecting our sacred spaces. 

Boundaries Around Time And Protecting Your Peace

One of the healthiest boundaries we can uphold for ourselves right now is protecting our time and energy. While the need to maintain social connection with others is important to our mental health (and we highly encourage it!), it’s equally as important for us to maintain the time we need to rest and recharge. This can be hard to do when someone is constantly texting, calling, or FaceTiming you!

There are different ways of communicating a  boundary around time, but being clear about it is key. You can set the boundary upfront when someone reaches out to you by letting them know you’re looking forward to catching up with them, but you only have a specific amount of minutes to talk.  You can communicate with the people in your life that there are blocks of time that you’re not available. During those blocks of time, engage in the self-care activities that help you rest and recharge. A boundary around time helps protect your mental health and prevent social burnout by allowing you to take a break from social stimulation and time to be with yourself.

Boundaries around conversations

Another healthy boundary to consider setting during quarantine is a boundary around which conversations you want to take part in. It is perfectly okay and reasonable to decide that you would rather not participate in anxiety and fear-provoking conversations about coronavirus and its effects on our world or the current economy. Stating out loud that you do not want to engage in certain conversations or quietly leaving a conversation are two examples of setting a boundary that protects you from undue anxiety, fear & stress and is designed to keep you stable and emotionally regulated. 

Our emotions are our own responsibility, and setting healthy boundaries surrounding them can be extremely helpful. Protecting your energy is a big part of self-care during this time when it’s so easy to get caught up in the negativity going on in the world. If you find yourself in a conversation that is stressing you out, consider gently letting the other person know you’re enjoying your time connecting with them, but that you would love to talk about something other than the virus. SPEAK YOUR TRUTH. 👏👏👏. You can also just tell them that you’d love to hear how they’ve been spending their free time. This upholds your boundary while staying engaged with them, so you both win! 

"All types of boundaries are necessary means of protecting our sacred spaces."

Boundaries Around Personal Space

Another example of an important boundary is maintaining your own personal space. Remember, boundaries are about asking for what you need. This can mean asking for some alone time in the living room to watch your favorite tv show or movie. It can also look like staying in your bedroom with the door closed. Maintaining a space to escape to and practice self-care and rest is really important. If you’re quarantined with roommates or family,  you can use that self-care space to get in tune with your emotions and needs. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for this space from whomever you’re sharing your home with and to stand strong in this boundary as a means of maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself throughout the coronavirus outbreak. We all need alone time and it’s our job during this quarantine period to take care of ourselves by asking for it. We can even help others by encouraging them to maintain their own personal space and alone time as well! 

Boundaries Around What You Cannot Control

During this period of social distancing, you’ve probably noticed that everyone seems to handle themselves a little bit differently. Each one of us has our own understanding of how we should respond to this outbreak. When others adhere less to the recommended rules of social distancing we can find ourselves upset and frustrated! 

As much as we would like, we cannot control other people's actions or the decisions they make. You can only be responsible for how you handle yourself. We can try to inspire compassionate behavior, but when we try to influence the actions of others, you tend to cause yourself undue stress and emotional dysregulation.

One way to incorporate this boundary is by creating a mantra for yourself that you can repeat whenever you find your emotions becoming heightened due to another person’s actions or decisions. Try these mantras: "I am only responsible for myself," and "I don’t control anyone’s actions but my own." These both reaffirm that you don’t have to own or give your energy or emotions to others’ decisions. If you're feeling inspired, come up with some mantras that serve you.

Grow Through What You Go Through

Remember, boundaries help us make decisions based on what is best and healthiest for us individually, so you might find that your boundaries look different than the boundaries of other people you know. That is okay! Creating healthy boundaries is a very personal process and what works for you and protects you during this time of quarantine may not work for someone else. What’s important is that you take the time and put the effort in to set up your own relationships in a way that makes them manageable, beneficial, and healthy for you during this time. Implement some of these ideas to help yourself thrive as we navigate this new normal together!