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  • Writer's pictureMindy McCarthy

Out of Bounds

When it comes to playing sports, most of them have some kind of lines that represent boundaries whether you have to keep possession of a ball inside those lines or you have designated areas you must stand during certain tasks that you are performing while playing the sport. These can be lines down a football field or lanes on a track, for example. Even coaches have designated areas that they must be standing in during a competition (some even have coaches whose task it is to keep their head coaches in the designated areas). The point is that these competitions usually entail some kind of boundary that you must stay in for the competition to be qualified.

We even have boundaries in other areas of our lives. When we are driving, we must stay in our lane in order to avoid collisions with other vehicles. During this global pandemic, there are designated spots in many public spaces where people must stand in order to practice social distancing. We even have boundaries drawn to designate different areas like what county you live in or what city and state you reside in.

All of the ones that I have mentioned above are physical boundaries that everyone can see when they are participating in said activity. What happens when we set some personal boundaries?

When the pandemic first started shutting down business and taking away in person meetings, people were working more and more from their homes. Many people struggled with this process because they were eating, sleeping, working, and relaxing all in the same areas. There were no set boundaries anymore such as working in their office and sleeping in their homes. There was no drive to and from work to help you prepare for the day ahead and digest the events that had occurred.

Work hours even seemed to start to blur. People were working earlier or even later than usual, especially if their coworkers knew that they had access to their computers and information at any time of day. I worked 100% remotely for a short period of time. The first week this happened, I woke up on Saturday feeling like I should have been working or doing something productive at least. I had lost those designated areas to complete certain tasks.

What happens when we don’t set boundaries for our own mental health? If you are constantly checking your email, for example, you are no longer giving yourself a break from your work. If you are constantly staring at your computer and then social media on your phone, you are not giving yourself a break from blue lights.

Establishing boundaries for yourself is important for your mental health as you can know exactly what task is at hand and when. Determine what hours you are going to be working on your work days. Establish time for you to take screen breaks throughout the day and especially before you are going to bed.

What about things that you have to do outside of your work day? Are there people that you need to make sure to spend time with like your family, spouse, siblings, etc.? Set time boundaries where you are allotting certain parts of your day where you will spend time with those people that you care about most.

We have talked a lot about how to make sure you are getting your job accomplished and taking time to spend it with your loved ones. What about spending time taking care of yourself personally? Schedule time in your day for some self-care whether that is getting a long bath or some time walking outside or watching your favorite show.

Just as there are physical boundaries in certain sports or even environments, make sure to set mental boundaries for yourself.

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