Since the beginning of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we’ve all been living in stressful and isolating conditions. Now, it seems like most places are relaxing restrictions even though variants of COVID-19 are cropping up, and people are starting to require vaccine boosters. It feels an awful lot like this will keep going forever, and it will never be safe to engage with our loved ones again. As you decide to begin engaging with loved ones, returning to work or school, and otherwise having an increasing number of interactions with people, you may find yourself feeling unsafe and uncomfortable. When we don’t feel secure in our interactions and environment, it’s important to set boundaries. These boundaries allow us to feel safer and more secure, so we can comfortably engage with the world around us. Remember, if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or isolated, the Family Connections Therapy team is here for you. We offer in-person and telehealth therapy options, so you can visit with our knowledgeable therapists however you feel comfortable.
What Are Boundaries & How Do I Set Them?
Boundaries are the physical or emotional lines we set to separate ourselves from feelings, behaviors, or people that may challenge our autonomy or stability. That sounds a little jargon-y. Simply speaking, a boundary is just a rule you set for yourself that defines what you need to feel safe and secure. These boundaries can be flexible, inflexible, or fall somewhere between these two extremes.
The first thing you need to do to set boundaries is to understand what you need to feel safe. Take some time to ask yourself the following questions about post-pandemic safety:
- What do I need to feel safe engaging with loved ones?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of engaging more with loved ones?
- Will hugging or shaking hands with loved ones make me uncomfortable?
As you think through questions like these, try to find the line where you feel safe engaging. For instance, maybe you don’t feel safe hugging loved ones, but you’re willing to shake hands as long as you can wash your hands or use sanitizer after. Perhaps you’re eager to meet up with friends and loved ones as long as you are outdoors or wear masks. If you’re not ready to engage with loved ones, are you taking steps to stay connected in other ways?
Once you set boundaries, decide how you want to communicate them to your loved ones. Do you feel comfortable expressing your boundaries in the moment when you engage with others or do you prefer to let people know in advance? Both options are fine. Just decide what will work best for you.
What if Someone Breaks a Boundary that I Set?
If someone breaks a boundary that you set but you don’t feel it was intentionally harmful, reaffirm that boundary in the moment. If they continue to break the boundary or you believe they are intentionally pushing your limits, you should remove yourself from the situation. You have the right to care for yourself however you see fit. You should not feel bad or guilty about working to maintain the boundaries that help you feel safe.
Can Therapy Help?
Therapy is a great place to explore and set your boundaries. If you need help processing everything that’s been going on over the past year, or you want to work with a therapist to develop your boundary-setting skills, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to request an appointment.