Everyone has experienced the effects of spreading yourself too thin and not setting boundaries. You don’t want to disappoint anyone with the answer “no.” What’s one more obligation gonna hurt? This vicious cycle continues until you can’t handle the load anymore. Now you’re stuck with exhaustion and mental stress.
Trust me, I’ve been there. When I put too much pressure on myself to please everyone else, I neglect to make time for the most important person — me.
It’s only natural that there will come a time when you’re in a funk and can’t shake it. When this happens, you must be able to set boundaries and focus on your own needs. Sometimes we think it’s selfish to put ourselves first. But the truth is, you can’t fully be there for others unless you’re taken care of.
So when the weight becomes too heavy to ignore, you must be ready to make a change. Here are five signs you have to start setting boundaries in your relationships.
1. You’re tired all the time.
It makes sense that if you give too much of yourself to others, you’ll be physically tired from all the work. Not to mention, you’re probably very stressed, affecting your sleep quality.
If it feels like it takes too much energy to do everyday things, this could be a clear sign that something isn’t working. You should have a healthy drive to accomplish your goals. Always be wary when your drive seems to be lacking.
2. You’re experiencing frequent breakdowns.
As weird as it may sound, one of the biggest signs I needed to focus on myself more was frequent phone calls and crying to my mom. I couldn’t understand why I was so emotional and why it felt like the world was caving in on me.
Although it took a while to make the connection, once I did, I had more mental stability. These breakdowns full of strong emotions became too much to handle, and I knew things had to change.
3. You’re eating a lot.
Not everyone is an emotional eater, but for those who are, overeating is a strong sign that boundaries need to be set. By using your rare alone time to stuff your face, it’s clear that you’re unhappy.
It may feel like the only time you have to fill yourself is when you’re alone. And although it seems like the perfect way to do it, it’s unhealthy to choose to fill it with food. On the contrary, feeling too busy to ever eat is also something to be cautious about.
4. No one can say the right thing.
Typically when the people around us sense that we’re hanging on by a thread, they want to help with words of advice. However, you probably don’t want to hear it in the state you’re in. So be sure to consider how you’re receiving help.
Are you annoyed by what people have to say? Do you still feel stuck without any way of getting out? When we don’t realize we need to set boundaries, it’s easy to disregard what anyone says.
5. You’ve lost joy in the simple things.
If you’re noticing that what used to make you happy no longer does, a shift needs to be made. A long walk to your favorite podcast may bring you peace of mind and ease anxiety. But is it not working anymore? Do you still feel overwhelmed?
Then it’s probably time to check in on yourself. Once the things that bring you joy only enhance negative emotions, there’s no escape from reality. This is not a place you want to be, and it’s important to recognize that something is off.
After you’ve been convinced that you’re unhappy and need to make a change, you must actually do the work. So, here’s how to actually set these boundaries.
1. Have an honest conversation.
Obviously, one of the best ways to make your boundaries clear is through honest communication. Sit down with whoever it is you need some time from and explain what you’ve been feeling.
I’m sure they will be receptive and understand where you’re coming from. Besides, if they care for you, they will want you to feel your best. Having this honest conversation will also prevent the boundaries from being broken.
2. Set aside time for yourself.
It’s safe to say that the root of this issue comes from a lack of self-care. So if you really want to set boundaries, you have to schedule time for yourself. This could be 15 minutes or an hour; however long you need, take it.
Do things that make you feel good about yourself. Maybe work out, paint your nails, or read your favorite book. When you make self-care a priority and part of your day, it becomes harder to break boundaries and abandon your needs.
3. Give times that you can be reached.
Depending on the specification of your boundaries, you may want to give people some limitations to your attention. For example, if a friend of yours is constantly looking for advice, give her the best time to reach you.
There’s nothing wrong with saying, “please don’t text me after 9 pm.” Likewise, it will be beneficial to your friendship if she still feels like you’re making time for her. Maybe schedule a weekly dinner date, so the boundaries are respected on both ends.
4. Engage the help of others to hold you accountable.
It’s always helpful to have someone in your life who will hold you accountable. If you’re like me, this person is your mom. She will always make sure that you are holding true to your word and doing what’s best for you.
Sometimes it’s a little too easy to break your own boundaries. If it weren’t for your desire to please others, you wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. That being said, consider sharing your goals and limits with someone you trust.
5. Continually assess your boundaries.
Perhaps the boundaries you set will need to change over time. What you need at one point might not be what you need at another. So it’s important to adjust your boundaries if you feel ready to.
There’s no way of knowing what’s going to work perfectly unless you try a few different things. Don’t be afraid to make changes where necessary. After all, these boundaries are supposed to reflect what you need for a healthy emotional state.