Managing your mental health means being able to manage your time and energy, two of your most invaluable resources. Yet, there are multiple elements of your mental health, from your psychological, emotional, to social needs, which means that taking care of your mental health is a matter of balance. Boundaries are what help you maintain that.
We live in a swiftly moving society that glorifies success and saying ‘yes’ to just about everything. A society where using the word ‘no’ and ‘progress’ in the same sentence is a rarity; meanwhile, the irony is that saying ‘no’ can typically take us even further in life. Saying ‘no’ can help us live all-around happier and healthier lives; sometimes, we just need a reminder that it is okay too.
Why is it important to set healthy boundaries?
Taking on too much at once puts a strain on our mental health and leaves us feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s too many work projects, responsibilities, or social engagements, having too much on our plates can contribute to fatigue, anxiety, and stress. It is vital that you recognize when you’re tiring out before it leads to burnout.
It’s not just the fact that our planners have the word overcommitment written all over them; it’s all the other daily pressures of the world too. The pressures to stay constantly connected through social media or to reply to an email or message as soon as you receive it. It’s enough to make any of us feel anxious until we learn that enough is enough – until we learn that it is okay to pause, slow down, or take a step back.
How to say ‘no’
When you just want to be the best person you can for yourself or others, there is nothing wrong with putting forth the effort. But being more does not always equate to doing more, and until we ingrain this concept in our minds, saying no will always be easier said than done. So, just as we would do with anything else pertaining to improving our mental health, we cultivate awareness and then practice.
The first step for you might be to realize what you can say no to; it may not always be the most obvious, and it may be different from what someone else turns down. You do not have to be a social butterfly or workaholic to find a place to start. You can say no to making plans with someone who always leaves you feeling drained. You can say ‘no’ to toxic people or toxic food.
As for the second step, give yourself permission. The truth is we often say yes to avoid hurting others, even if it means hurting or inconveniencing ourselves. You are allowed to let go of the guilt that you’ve learned to attach to this two-letter word. Besides, our friends or family members also need an occasional reminder that boundaries are healthy for a relationship.
Lastly, be sure of your decision. Understand the positive impact that saying no can have on your life. Consider how you can make good use of your newfound free time. If you cannot learn to convince yourself that it is okay to set boundaries, you will have a difficult time keeping people and things outside of them.