Setting Boundaries Helps Anxiety
One of the things I hear most often from students I work with is that it is hard for them to say "no" to others. It is something that I have also found difficult for my own anxiety, for fear that it can lead to conflict or upsetting someone. So, I will end up with more on my plate than intended, having a hard time managing my time and balancing responsibilities, and feeling anxious because I felt like I was being pulled in several different directions.
Why Boundaries Are Important for Anxiety
There have been times such as these where I realized that I would do what I could to avoid the conflict to keep my anxiety from being triggered. I also would find that it was important, at this point, to set boundaries because my anxiety was being triggered by perceptions I was having of the situation. For example, I would feel guilty because I wanted to say "no" when being asked to do something I didn't have time to do, but at the same time, I found that I felt overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety because I felt responsible for others.
I also realized that I was feeling guilty because I thought it was selfish that I felt the need to set boundaries. However, what took me a long time to realize was that setting boundaries is not a selfish act. Instead, establishing boundaries is important for my overall wellbeing. Setting boundaries is important for my anxiety and actually helped me to cope.
How You Can Set Boundaries to Help Your Anxiety
Setting boundaries is not a selfish act. Instead, it is a way to care for yourself and it is needed to attend to your own needs. As I have taught my students -- boundaries are lines, physical or emotional, that allow us to be clear about our needs, feelings, and responsibilities. Boundaries allow us to clearly define what is okay with us. Setting boundaries can help you feel more grounded, less overwhelmed, and less overrun by anxious feelings. And setting clear boundaries can be a way to help keep from being triggered in the future.
Here are three helpful steps for using boundaries to help manage your anxiety:
- Be aware and mindful of what you need, what you want, and what your limits are. To set boundaries, you first need to know what those lines that you will draw will look like for you. If you aren't sure, pay attention to what your anxiety symptoms are and when you are aware of them. I've found that this has been key for me in setting healthy boundaries.
- Communicate your boundaries. You can start small. You do not need to set firm boundaries with everyone in your life immediately since this will take time. And, the boundaries you set with people in your life will depend on the relationship. But you can start off small. For example, you can start by saying "no" when you need to. You may find that this immediately is helpful for your anxiety because you are communicating your needs to others.
- Be consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to successfully establishing boundaries. It may be a difficult process, and you may find it helpful to enlist the help of your support system. This is something I find helpful as I do my best to stay as consistent as possible. Consistency also works best if you are initially clear and direct with the boundaries you set.
Try these strategies to see if they work for you. If there are steps you take to set boundaries for yourself, share them in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2021, November 9). Setting Boundaries Helps Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2021/11/setting-boundaries-helps-anxiety
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
I love the steps for using boundaries. This is such an important part that often gets skipped or missed when talking about implementing boundaries. We say they're great and useful, but then how do we actually use them?! This is wonderful, especially because boundaries really do hold so many benefits.
Thank you! It is certainly important to be mindful of using them with intention. We talk a lot about boundaries but, in order to reap benefits, it is necessary that we use them with self-awareness.
Thank you so much for your comments!
Stay safe and well,