I LOVE boundaries. I'm not saying I'm good at them or have perfect boundaries, but they are just so, so useful in so many ways. They can transform the relationship we have with ourselves and the people around us.
Firstly, let's discuss what boundaries are and what boundaries are not. In the context of health, fitness, mindset, and nutrition I am a big fan of boundaries being:
They change. They are dynamic. Liken this to your work/social calendar. We have no problem saying 'no, I can't do that, I'm already busy' to a suggestion. No can do. But if someone were to suggest last minute silent disco-ing on a Thursday night dressed as a pineapple - you might be a HELLYA and off you go. Flexible boundaries mean they are baggy enough to live in. They are supportive in all the right ways.
Your boundaries do not need to look like anyone else's and there's more than one boundary to address the same thing. You might try to be setting some boundaries around your sleep and first try no work for two hours before bed and no screens before bed. But that's just HARD, and you work shifts and you enjoy Love Island (hate that show, sorry and not!) before bedtime. So, be creative. Maybe instead you have solid, repeatable, short bedtime routine that winds you down kindly and effectively - even if you only just just stop working an hour a go. Or you watch Love Island through your blue-light blocking glasses and wonder how they still manage to look like that.
Your boundaries are there to support YOU. To help YOU. So if they are just so difficult and so much effort and make your life harder and you more tired and exhausted - are they the right boundaries for you? Get clear on why you want to do something (sleep enough, move for joy and respect of your body, eat to create the energy you need) and then create boundaries that reflect that.
Remember, as we explore the next part, that healthful boundaries for me will not necessarily look like healthful boundaries for you. Ignore those that are not helpful. A good guide is that if there’s any hint of restriction or judgement in your boundaries, then they're probably not from a place of self-love and kindness.
So, here are three ideas you could consider creating boundaries around for your health:
I will not eat standing up; it does not allow me to slow down and enjoy my food.
I will eat food off a plate and not from a packet etc as it will allow me to be more mindful of what I eat.
I will eat a nutritious meal before I eat chocolate.
I need to eat. I am going to go grab something.
I will eat slowly to discover the joy and satisfaction in food
I am allergic to [insert here], so we can't have that in our home.
Where am I able to find food/a drink right now?
I am really tired. I need to sit down now.
I will move my body for joy
I will move to honour my body and create the energy I want in my life
I will have a non-negotiable 8 hour sleep window because sleep is a necessity, not a luxury
I am worthy of rest and my to-relax list is high priority
My value is not in my productivity.
Not everything is essential; I get to choose what is my highest priority.
I would love to, but I would be over-committing myself.
I will pass on that, thank you for asking me though.
I make time for _______ on Saturdays, so I won't be able to make it.
I only have an hour at that time
I will be on time because I value my own time and others
I will give myself enough time to get to ______ because I know I don't enjoy rushing
Your body feels good when it has time, movement, energy and food.
Remember; setting boundaries is a sign of respect; for yourself and for others. They are not selfish, and you don't need to push your boundaries onto anyone. Boundaries are your internal guide to navigating a chaotic world to what feels good and healthy for you.
In the words of Brené Brown, "Clear is kind."
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