Learning to set BOUNDARIES

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From time to time, we all get the dreaded feeling that there just isn’t enough time to do everything we need to do, let alone squeeze in a few of the things we want to do. Between demands on our time from work, kids, kids’ events, spouses, and countless other activities that vie for our attention, it is easy to get so bogged down to the point where you feel overwhelmed to the point of drowning. Part of it is surely our culture. After all, we live in a society where the appropriate response to “How’s it going?” is “Oh, I am so busy.” So many people wear it as a badge of honor sometimes, but at what cost? In this post, we’ll explore a few ideas that can help you take back control of your life and your time and hopefully return some of your sanity back, too!

Set Boundaries

It sounds simple, but it is easier said than done. What sort of boundaries am I talking about? Here, I’m referring to personal boundaries; the ones that are often hardest to bring up but that have a significant impact on your mental health and well-being.

For example, do you hate attending holiday functions with your family, because someone always brings up how impressive and accomplished one of your siblings is? Or perhaps someone in the family leaves you feeling guilty that you don’t visit as much as you used to. Any variation of these can leave us feeling depressed and despondent. However, there is a way to overcome those anxieties: set boundaries.

Whether it is the dreaded family holiday get-together or something else entirely that you dread doing, try and level-set with whomever you’re visiting and tell them what is and is not okay tobring up, talk about, or share while you’re there. These are difficult conversations to have, especially with loved ones (the same rules apply for workplace functions, too), but until you express your feelings, no one may know their behavior is negatively affecting you.

Self-awareness is a major aspect of setting boundaries. After all, in order to set them, you need to know what they are. When you have clearly communicated your boundaries to those who need to be made aware, that is just the first step. If someone violates your boundaries after you’ve set them, it is equally as important to be assertive and let them know how their actions are affecting you. Whenever possible, seek the support and guidance of others whom you respect and can count on to be there for you.

Make Healthy Choices

Healthy minds and healthy bodies are key ingredients to regaining control in your life. With all of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, though, it can be difficult to find time to head to the gym or take time to just focus on your thoughts without distraction. However, achieving a healthy mind and body doesn’t require giant time commitments, and the results will serve you well all year long.

Moving our bodies in deliberate, thoughtful ways helps connect our bodies to our minds. One great way to do this is through practicing yoga. Yoga includes physical movement, breathing exercises, and promotes an awareness of Self that other workouts simply don’t give you. By bridging the physical to the emotional and even spiritual, yoga allows your body to relax and move while calming your mind and putting you back in the driver’s seat and regaining control.

Mindfulness is another great way to regain control and balance in your life. It is also very much in line with the practice of yoga. There are a lot of great benefits associated with mindfulness, namely the ability to become fully present, aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and become more reflective and less reactive to the world around us. You can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine in a number of ways. One of the easiest ways to start is to focus on your breathing. Since breathing is so integral to everything in our lives, deliberate concentration on breathing in and out can put your mind and body at ease, leaving you with a feeling of more control in your daily life.  Breathing is just one exercise of many, so this appeals to you, I encourage you to further your research and find more mindfulness routines that suit you.

Don’t Try to Change Everything at Once

Old habits die hard, and breaking out of them is difficult to say the least. Generally speaking, research suggests that it takes about 21 days of consistent patterns and action for something to become habit. That’s why it is so important for us to be mindful about how we’re adopting these changes into our life.

If the goal is for us to feel less stressed and less overwhelmed, what sense is there in trying to fix everything at once? That sounds stressful!

So, be mindful about creating boundaries, eating right, and getting exercise. These changes don’t have to be enormous, either. If you’re looking for an easy addition to your daily routine that is incredibly helpful, try simple breathing exercises.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed, try to pinpoint what specific things in your life that are the source of the stress. Then, close your eyes and simply focus on your breathing: Gentle inhale through your nostrils, gentle exhale through your mouth. Repeat. In. And out. In. And out. 

When you complete this exercise, your head will be in a much better place to approach your stresses rationally and head on. You’ll be amazed at how satisfying regaining control with a few simple breathing exercises can be.

I would love to hear from you! What do you do in your daily life to help reduce stress and not feel incredibly overwhelmed all the time?