Why Setting Boundaries Helps Protect Mental Health
Boundaries are one way people teach others how to treat them. It communicates how we want to be treated but also what is not considered safe, as a sort of protection for people. It might be hard to set good boundaries with people because it can be easier to brush off behavior that is detrimental to our health and safety, but it is not in our best interests long term. This includes mental health. Find out why mental health can suffer without good boundaries and how to navigate this challenge in recovery.
Start with You
Don’t be afraid to start by making little observations about how you feel and think. Write them down, note it, and check out patterns that may be emerging. When you think about the questions of how people treat you, it might help to think about where you express yourself with others:
- How often the word ‘no’ is used
- What work is like (good boundaries or working all the time)
- Boundaries with technology use
- Whether or not you feel heard in relationships
- Feeling whether needs are met or not in relationships
- Figuring out what is depleting or not life-giving
Identify Safe Boundaries
When you know what is life-giving, you can figure out what will satisfy you overall. Identify the boundaries that need to be set and figure out how to navigate to dealing with them. When identifying safe boundaries, it helps to write down what they look like and note how they can be more specific and direct to work better for you.
State Boundaries Explicitly
One of the reasons boundaries don’t often work is they are not stated or communicated. Mentally, it can be draining to guess, wonder, or try to approximate what people are thinking or saying. Practice how to state those boundaries in difficult situations. Have a close friend or acquaintance to help you. Practice setting them with your body, then your words. It is easier to say ‘yes’ at the moment than say ‘no,’ or ‘not yet.’
The hardest part about boundaries is how they impact your life over time. Quite easily, you may become depressed or anxious over poor boundaries and wonder how to get your life back on track. It is harder when your values are not prioritized and your needs go unmet. If you feel depleted, drained, and disappointed, it is even more of a challenge. Advocate for yourself by not letting people take advantage. Rather, make sure they know you are working on mastering the art of self-care by practicing safe, stable boundaries.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality sober living for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through community building, accountability, and healthy living. Our sober living program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information about sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (818) 921-7132.