The Positive Side: “The Importance of Boundaries”

This series will always run as an association with my Charity Twitch Stream where we’ll be fundraising for the mental health charity, MIND on Saturday 19 December at 7 pm GMT (Check what time that is for you here) If you want to join in to watch or donate click here to watch and here to go directly to the fundraiser!

Ah yes, do come in, you’ve reached the “Positive Side” (okay now read that five times over in *The Twilight Zone voice*). This is a short little ol’ series during the dire winter months to highlight our mental health and its importance. There will be advice, stories and news to give you a little hand holding a whisper of “you got this” through these rough times.

Boundaries. Okay, aren’t we already in for a tough start, eh? I don’t know about you, but this is a complicated word with lots of complex feelings involved. For me, it took a long time to see the positive connotations; at first, it sounded forced and isolating. I already felt so lonely. Why is this a good thing? But lo and behold it certainly can be and is essential to our self-care and the way we interact with people and particularly with social media these days, it’s more important than ever.

Here are a few pointers of where we need to hone in on the idea of “boundaries” and at least consider setting them in these areas of our lives:

  1. The Struggle is Real when Working from Home

These days, given the pandemic and all most of us, are working from home. So much so confided in this space, that our line between work and play, being productive/relaxing, has started to blur indefinitely. Because hey you’re in the same spot as you are working and you are resting, the very reminders of “to get off your butt and do more work” are all over! Maybe some scattered pieces of work from earlier unfinished or your laptop afar, flashing it’s ‘On’ button at you, threateningly. 

As a freelancer, this whole conundrum is my natural habitat, but it doesn’t mean I have perfected that art either, still, I am one for not taking my own advice, so here’s what would do you some much justified relaxing time. 

It comes down to setting up your precedent. You have your physical and mental boundaries here. You have to be your own boss and be tough on your calls. This means schedules and organisation is critical, your diary is your best friend now, get used to it. Another is questioning yourself, why do I feel guilty, why can’t I relax as much? Or the like. Find the key to your struggles, deep dive. Is your office also your bedroom where you prop up on your bed with a laptop to watch Netflix. It would help if you reminded yourself of that distinction. If you can separate space for work, do so, a separate room, you can close the door when work is completed, or if not, put away all the notions of work once you’re finished for the day, so you know out of sight, out of mind. 

  1. Social Media and your phone: 

This is a hard one. I think we can all agree. Much like the first point, you need to find a balance between social media/your phone and time away from it all, because trust me, it’s not as good as you feel like it is, not all the time at least.

And with the multitude of personal grief intermixed with societal grievances, the abundance of bad news clashing with our own need for doom scrolling, keeping an eye on what all that influx of negativity can do to one’s mental health.

This point is primarily a struggle if social media or using your phone goes hand in hand with your line of work. It’s easier said than done with all this advice telling us “turn off your phone for the day.” To make it more manageable, we need to compromise with our lifestyle, on par with my previous point, especially if we all need to use our phones outside of our leisure time too. A few ideas may be to download apps that help you manage your time on social media such as Freedom, Zenscreen and Moment to name a few or even the iPhone’s built-in feature that limits your time on chosen apps. 

Another idea is to use aeroplane mode or do not disturb modes more often. Depending on if you’re continually twitching to check out that notification that propped up or you don’t need to use your internet when you need to use a phone for some sense of productivity. Lastly, another idea is to shove your phone in a drawer or somewhere it’s out of your sight (similar to the previous point) there are a few more steps on checking that phone giving you more time to debate when you need to check your phone and squash that impulse

  1. People, yep get out the original ‘mute’ button: 

I lied, maybe this is the hardest one, if you’re like me and get anxiety if you leave all your messages piling up which I tend up doing anyway. The point is, having our alone time or our leisure time that isn’t bombarded with somebody else’s needs is important too. Whether you’re stuck in a house full of loud roommates or your phone is packed with messages, the point is you need to set boundaries if these get too much. 

Here’s the deal, we need to accept that just because someone is online or someone looks available for your time, doesn’t necessarily mean they are. They have their own leisure time to relax with or for themselves, regain some of that social fuel as it were. Socialising is a whole other segment of our lives that most times overlaps with that leisure but not all the time. 

But what do you do? How do you set boundaries for such a thing? It all depends, sometimes we may need to do something as simple as telling them that you’ll reply soon, other times it’s down to your mentality, setting yourself up for the fact you deserve to relax that you don’t need to be jumping back and forth continually. 

Suppose it’s a roommate thing, people you’re living with. In that case, it’s down to honesty. You need a break, you need to be alone for a bit but then will be right back to that uh, chattering on about exes or what have you—going out for a walk if you can also is an excellent thing to do to get out and away for a bit. 

With all kinds of relationships, you need to understand and respect each other’s time they take out for you and themselves, what do you need to talk to them about, do you need to talk about it or would you keep piling them a heavy weighted burden? Especially if they have their mental health to worry about? It’s about taking extra thought and care, maybe ask “is it okay if I talk about this thing that’s been worrying me?” First. 

I will touch lightly on this as it’s the next issue I will go in further detail but lastly, check yourself if you’re in a transactional relationship with a friend or whomever. Still, sometimes there are some reciprocal benefits, and this is another red flag to put up boundaries with them. 

That’s it for this week. I hope that’s helped for some! I’ll come back with more advice next time and maybe even a little positive story to end it!

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