Five tips on setting boundaries for your mental health

Defending personal boundaries and freedom concept. Young woman standing and feeling in capsule defending her own private personal boundaries from man vector illustration
Setting healthy boundaries paves the way to better mental health (Photo: Gettyimages)

Personal boundaries are like invisible bubble wrap that let people you interact with learn what is okay or not okay in your books. They can be challenging to navigate as you do not want to be perceived as rude or hard to work with. However, setting boundaries is essential to your mental health and well-being, helping to prevent unnecessary stress.

Taking the first step in creating healthy personal limits can be difficult. Here are five things to remember when helping yourself create personal boundaries for your well-being.

1. Prioritise yourself

You are the most important person to yourself. Give yourself permission to focus on your safety and well-being, and know that it is not selfish to place yourself as a priority.

More often than not, we tend to move our boundaries when we think that others are not comfortable with our limits, even if it becomes uncomfortable for us. Remind yourself that you are important and you deserve people respecting your boundaries.

2. Be consistent with your limits

Not following through with your personal boundaries might lead to people overstepping your boundaries and pushing your limits consistently. Do your best to be consistent when it comes to your boundaries and think carefully before you want to make any exceptions. Never compromise on your mental health to please others.

3. Learn to say no

As intimidating as saying no can be, learning how to reject others and prioritising your own needs is an important lesson. Many times, we tend to come up with a list of reasons why we are saying no, either in our own head or verbalising it to the person you are rejecting. However, remember that “No” is a complete sentence.

The earlier you know how to say no without guilt and without having to justify your rejection, the better your mental health can be.

4. Using “I” statements

“I” statements focus on the speaker’s beliefs and feelings, helping one express their opinions without worrying what the listeners are thinking. It is a form of assertive language, which is non-negotiable yet non-threatening.

A good form of “I” statement can be: “I feel (adjective) when (situation) because (reasons). What I need is (action).”

5. Get external assistance or support

Setting and asserting your personal boundaries can be intimidating and difficult, especially if you are staying with others or in constant contact with people who challenge your limits consistently. Never hesitate to reach out for external assistance and support, be it from trusted family and friends, or a professional mental health specialist.

Personal boundaries should help you in fortify or distance yourself from relationships that can be detrimental to your mental health. Differentiate between those who respects or disrespects you in your discomfort. Rather than building walls to keep your loved ones out, personal boundaries help you recognise behaviours and people that are harmful to your mental health.