Setting Healthy Boundaries & Achieving a Balanced Life

'You cannot pour from an empty cup'

This is such a powerful saying that I often ponder on and is definitely one we should be taking to heart, especially at this difficult time where everyone is struggling to cope with COVID related anxiety etc.

But what does it mean?

I saw this photo on social media recently and it puts things much better than I ever could!

Put simply - that if we continue giving and giving without taking time to care for our own needs we will burn ourselves out.

The effects of burnout are something I have struggled with for years and unfortunately I ended up having a breakdown. So something I would say to anyone who, like me, has an empathetic, giving nature is - please, please, please take care of yourself!

Ensuring that I keep my own self care as paramount is not something I find easy and sometimes I don't realise I've pushed myself too far until I start to feel the stress and anxiety rise up.

I have a tendency to take on too much and although it's a good thing to have a compassionate nature and help others, we need to be encouraging them to put in the personal work for themselves rather than relying on us/others to help solve their problems.

This is a lesson I still struggle to learn even now.

Sometimes it's difficult to maintain a healthy balance not only with other people but also myself.

So I thought today we could delve a little deeper into ways we can work on our balancing skills! And of course, I would love to know your thoughts on the subject.


When it comes to setting boundaries with others, it's often easy to see what steps you need to take but quite another thing to actually implement them!

So below are a few of the ones that are important and relevant to me but obviously there are many more that might apply more to your life as well.

When starting this process it is understandable that you will feel some guilt and worry about how people will react but with time this will become easier. It is important to remember that...

* You are not a terrible person if you have to tell others to back off.

* It's ok to say no.

* You are enough, just as you are.

* It's ok to keep away from circumstances/people that have negative influences.


Setting Boundaries With Other People

In this high paced, technological world we seem to think that we can get hold of people at a moment's notice. This has lead to the idea that we need to keep on top of our calls, emails and texts at all times.

Of course, in terms of our working day this might be true but when talking about our personal lives why are we pushing ourselves so hard to deal with the demands of others? Answering emails and text messages when you are able to, rather than when others demand it, can be a hard lesson to learn.

We've been conditioned to think that we should always be available to the needs of others but how often do we apply the same to our own needs??

It is important that you go at YOUR pace, not that of others. Those people who know you best will understand, those who don't aren't usually people you want or need in your life.

The thing I personally find the hardest is phone calls. I don't like them in general and find them really draining, especially when I am required to listen to the problems and demands of others.

So over the past few months I have had to limit some of my acquaintances to text messages only with the understanding that I will respond when I am able. This could mean later in the day, the next day or days later depending on how I am doing.

I initially felt really guilty about this but looking at it objectively I realised that it's been an important positive step forward for me.

In what ways do you think you could put boundaries in place with other people in your life?


Setting Boundaries With Ourselves

To be perfectly honest, I've really struggled to get this post ready for you (it's now a week late!) and have had a lot of anxiety over the past week. So after stressing myself out about it, I've had to say 'stuff it, this post will be ready when it's ready' rather than ignoring my boundaries and pushing myself too far.

In the past I would tell myself that this meant I was being lazy and I needed to push through to accomplish important tasks but that's such a horrendously damaging, negative mindset that I've had to work really hard at getting rid of.

Setting boundaries with ourselves can take many forms, from ensuring we balance our work / personal life to giving ourselves permission to take a break when we need it.

I'm still trying to work out a good balance here in lockdown. I'm using a print out weekly calendar to try and chart my day in a more constructive way but it's taking rather a lot of tweeking at the moment.

Being home so much means I am sitting around a lot and spending a lot of time on my laptop! Weirdly the days fly by but I often feel I haven't done anything constructive with my day. Of course, this isn't always true but that pesky office style work ethic is so engrained it's hard to see things in perspective!

I think it's important not to stress ourselves out too much about this especially with everything that's going on around us right now.

It's definitely important that we schedule breaks for ourselves. So I have specific things I have to work in to my day to ensure I maintain a healthy body and mind.

There are many ways we can use our breaks or down time. Some can be really constructive ways to spend the time, others not so much.

Here are a few negative ways we tend to use this time followed by some ideas on how we can tweek them to make them more positive.


* Spending too much time binge watching TV.

I'm sure like me, you've been wading through loads of Netflix series over lockdown? There's loads that I've been meaning to watch! I think I'll just watch one episode, then realise it's midnight and I've watched the whole series!!!

* Aimlessly scrolling on social media

We all love using social media and it can be a really useful tool but it's so easy to get into scrolling with no purpose and then we realise we've done nothing for the last hour!

* Bad sleep patterns

As I've mentioned above, I find myself glued to the tv late at night which means I'm not in a proper sleep routine. This then impacts on the time I get up the following morning and means I end up staying up late again which creates a vicious cycle. So definitely an issue that needs to be resolved.

* Sluggishly sitting on the sofa and not moving much

As a lot of us are now spending so much time at home, it can be easy to just sit. I get engrossed in what I'm doing and then forget to move around. This makes me very sleepy especially at this time of year with the shorter, colder days. FYI I'm typing this whilst wrapped in a blanket on the sofa and yes I'm feeling sleepy!


* Schedule time for your TV shows

Instead of binge watching TV, set time aside in your schedule for your favourite shows. I sometimes use my lunch break to check out mine which gives my brain a break so I can go back to work with a fresh perspective. I also limit myself to watching just 1 episode.

Although there are so many series to watch, try and include shows that are positive and constructive. For example, I love history and art documentaries, so I'm actively learning rather than just sitting there passively.

* Book in time to use social media

The main reason I use social media is to connect with people, potential students and advertising but I definitely find myself wandering from this goal and looking at tons of stuff that's not relevant.

So I've turned my notifications off as every time my phone pings I automatically pick it up to check them. I've booked specific times in my schedule to do the work things I need to do on social media so I hope this will help cut down on the amount of wasted time.

* Regular times for getting up and going to bed

Admittedly I love snuggling in bed and not having much going on in terms of a schedule has meant I've struggled to push myself to get moving in the morning. And of course, the late nights TV watching hasn't helped either.

So I'm now I'm experimenting with different sleeping and waking routines.

At night, I'm doing a 45 minute body scanning meditation whilst lying in bed which really helps me relax ready for sleep.

In the mornings I find it easier to get going if I give myself some time to lie in bed, stretch, listen to the radio and check out updates/news on my phone for 20 minutes. Just jumping (I mean dragging!!) myself straight out of bed when the alarm goes off really stresses me out.

So I'm setting my alarm earlier to accommodate this which means when I get up I'm ready to get on with my day in a more positive frame of mind instead of wandering like a zombie for the first couple of hours.