Self Care and Boundaries

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Are you ever worried that taking time for yourself might seem selfish? Often times, down time is met with uncertainty and concern about what others might think.

"Am I doing enough?" "Do I really deserve this?" "Am I sure there isn't something else that needs more of my attention," might be a few thoughts racing through your mind at the end of the day.

I, myself, have been known to guilt myself out of some well deserved me time. But why do we do that? What could I be lacking that drains so much of my energy? If this resonates with you, boy, do I have the answer. WE LACK BOUNDARIES! This could show others that we don't have a "strong identity or are enmeshed with someone else" (Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 2021). We do not want that. We want to be our own person, and creating boundaries to improve our self care is just the way to do it.

BOUNDARIES?! What ever could I mean?

When you think about boundaries, an idea that might pop into your head is physical space. Most people define their personal space "about 30 inches around one's body" (Caselman and Cantwell, 2009). If someone were to step within that space, it might make that person a bit uncomfortable. This is only one type of boundary.

Boundaries can be physical (visible) and emotional (invisible).

For example, if a colleague began talking about a topic that made me uncomfortable, maybe it offended me in some way, I would need to set a boundary to let that person know I was not comfortable. This could be considered an invisible boundary.

The picture I have below is an example of a visible boundary. We may use fences, doors, or walls to separate ourselves from one another.

Basically our ability to say, "No!" and mean it is a type of boundary. It's an important part of self care. You see, when we lack boundaries, it can be difficult to prioritize things that are important to us. This can include our time, space, and selves.

How do we set boundaries? suggests identifying/defining our preferred boundaries, communicating that need clearly without over-explaining ourselves, and establishing consequences (Selva, 2021). By being assertive, you able to gain a sense of control over what you will and will not allow in your relationships. This could seem frightening at first, but others will respect you for "telling them how it is" instead of being miserable.

Learning about assertive communication could be helpful in setting boundaries with others. This is where we are considerate of ourselves AND those around us.

If I wanted to spend some alone time enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning, I could ask my partner, children, or parents to respect the time that I have carved out for myself. If they needed to be tended to, I could do it once I have finished my drink. This allows the participating party to understand that my time is valuable and that I will spend it how I choose. Thus, prioritizing self care.

How will you set boundaries to prioritize yours? Leave a comment below on what you think about this blog topic.


T. Caselman and J. Cantwell. (2009). Impulse control: Activities & worksheets for middle school students. YouthLight, Inc.

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2021). Boundaries and self-care: The beauty of boundaries. Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation.

J. Selva. (2021). How to set healthy boundaries: 10 examples + pdf worksheets. Positive Psychology.

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