Setting boundaries is important, but has become even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have set strict physical boundaries to stop the spread of the virus, it’s also imperative that we set personal boundaries in order to properly take care of ourselves and our mental health.
Our personal boundaries are kind of like guidelines that we set for ourselves about how we interact with others. We do this for our own health and safety. Healthy boundaries can look like social distancing and wearing a face mask in public, which keeps us physically safe and healthy. But it can also look like letting friends know the times that you are unable to answer your phone or respond to texts, only answering work emails during your work hours, and limiting your social media intake. This can allow us the time that we need to take care of ourselves and reduce stress.
Many of us are working from home, taking online classes, or having to be apart from our friends and family. This means that a lot of our communication is online, and always available to us. It can be hard to separate ourselves from school, work, and social interactions when they are all in the same place and always immediately available. Friends and family may be calling or texting more often, we may not have designated work or school hours, and it can all start to blend together.
Setting boundaries can be a helpful way to cope with the stress that this can bring. A healthy boundary could be setting allotted times where we are focused on school or work, where our friends and family know that we won’t be available to talk. We can make plans with friends and family to talk where we aren’t checking our work emails. We can also take time for ourselves as well just to de-stress, where we can just be offline for a while and practice some self-care.
With everything going on in the world right now, it is easy to feel overwhelmed scrolling through social media. Many of us are stuck between wanting to stay informed through social media about current events and needing a break from it. One way to manage this is setting boundaries. It can be difficult to be constantly absorbing stressful content that is being shared lately, so one way to limit this intake is to block or unfollow certain accounts that you’ve found to bring you stress.. Maybe unfollowing family or friends for things that their posting isn’t something that you’re comfortable with, and that is okay, too. Some social media platforms have the option to “mute” someone’s posts or stories while you are still following them, and they won’t be notified about this.
There’s also an option to block certain hashtags for topics that may be upsetting to you. Maybe the content you see is tolerable, but just not things you want to see all day, every day. And that’s totally okay. You shouldn’t feel bad or as if you need to justify yourself for setting this boundary.
Another way to set boundaries could be limiting your time on social media. Taking a break from social media could be beneficial, whether that’s a whole day at a time or a few hours each day without scrolling.
Right now, especially with the state of the world, it’s easy to forget that we are always in control of how we designate our time and the content that we are consuming. Setting boundaries in these areas of life can help us manage them better.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You are never alone.