Increase Your Quality of Life Through Boundaries

Pyramid Online Counseling      General  
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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel a complete lack of personal space? In a relationship where you can’t get a moment to yourself? In a state of frustration because you feel completely taken advantage of? 

While it might be tempting to immediately blame the other for these feelings, it might be beneficial to examine yourself as well and ask, “Did I fail to set healthy boundaries in order to respect both my personal space and theirs?” 

What are healthy boundaries?

A healthy boundary can have varying definitions based on the individual’s lifestyle and level of comfortability. Generally speaking, however, it can be defined as the space where you end and the other begins; it is the line you don’t allow others to cross out of respect for your emotional and psychological health. In order to remain firmly rooted in your own identity and not become lost in another, one must set healthy boundaries. 

Why is it important to create boundaries?

The term ‘boundary’ can sound isolating, like a brick wall around a property line. Setting personal boundaries doesn’t require bricks and mortar, and can therefore be much more difficult to communicate to others since personal boundaries are invisible. Unless you communicate them through your words and actions, other people won’t know where those boundary lines lie. 

Essentially, where your boundaries lie reflect self-respect, independence and personal values. For example, your limits of how much personal information you share at work might look different from your coworkers, but just because they feel more comfortable sharing doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to share the same amount. 

You can set hard and fast or loose and flexible boundaries around many different areas of your life, including: 

  • Physical comfortability
  • Financial situations
  • Personal information, like a medical diagnosis or a difficult familial situation  
  • Emotional thoughts and feelings
  • Personal opinions, such as where you stand politically or religiously
  • Availability, like when you choose to answer the phone or respond to emails

Not only will setting these boundaries give you the space you need, they can also: 

  • Improve self-esteem and independence
  • Conserve emotional energy
  • Provide peace and a clearer sense of your beliefs and values
  • Give you more time and energy to invest in your joys, hobbies, leisures, etc.
  • Increase confidence in ensuring your needs are met 

How to create healthy boundaries 

So now that you understand why it’s important to set healthy boundaries, let’s take a look at how it’s done.

1. Say no 

One of the surest ways to overwhelm yourself is by saying yes to everything — staying late at work, running the carpool for the kids, throwing the baby shower at your house, organizing the office get-together, being constantly available for a needy friend/relative. While these things might be good individually, when you repeatedly agree to things, you will find yourself with too much on your plate, no time for yourself and an impending sense of burnout. 

To keep yourself accountable and within the bounds of what you can handle, it’s imperative to learn to say no. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re selfish and it should never make you feel guilty. Saying no shows that you not only respect and admit to your limitations, but that you respect the task at hand enough to realize you shouldn’t take on anything else. Plus, it gives you the freedom to select what you devote your energy and time towards.

2. Use “I” statements to be assertive 

You can take responsibility for your needs by using “I” statements. This helps to increase independence and self-esteem, in that no guilt is present in saying, “This is what I need,” but it also helps to prevent making the other person feel bad. 

For example, saying, “I feel overwhelmed/frustrated/angry when spoken to like that,” helps you take responsibility for your emotions while also letting the other know that that’s not an effective way of communicating with you. 

3. Don’t ignore the red flags 

There are some behaviors that, when encouraged, can infringe more and more on your boundaries. People who need to be in constant communication with you, who dominate the conversation in a monologue or rant, who have little filter in regards to personal drama/events or who let you in on their entire personal history in the hopes of speeding up the depth of relationship might have poor boundaries themselves. 

Individuals who don’t have examples of good boundaries won’t know how to set them on their own. For your own mental health, it’s important to not only set these boundaries for yourself, but to consider limiting your time spent with individuals who will take advantage of your time, energy and peace of mind.

4. Limit availability 

Technology, with all its benefits, has also infringed on boundaries in that everyone has the ability to get ahold of you at all times, if you let them. That being said, we all have the responsibility to acknowledge this truth and proceed accordingly, setting boundaries such as: 

  • “I won’t answer calls from work after 5pm on a work day about work-related materials.” 
  • “I won’t forward work emails to my personal cell phone.” 
  • “I will consider the hour of the day before calling so-and-so.” 
  • “I’ll make sure I’m in a good state of mind before impulsively responding to this message.”

Get further assistance

Setting boundaries for the first time can be difficult, so if you find yourself not knowing where to begin or struggling to maintain them, consider speaking with Pyramid Online Counseling today for assistance. Call anytime at 833-525-3077.

Benefiting Your Health Through Close Attention to Your Meals

Pyramid Online Counseling      General  
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So much of what we do nowadays is done distractedly at top speed. We drive quickly from one place to the next while listening to a podcast or talking on the phone. We clean in a hurry because guests are coming. We shovel down our meals while scrolling through social media and toss our plate into the dishwasher without a pause. 

But what if we did pause? What if we took a moment to enter into the moment? 

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is incredibly countercultural. It challenges our busy, overly active and distracted lifestyles by forcing us to slow down and engage with the world around us. 

Mindfulness is a practice whereby one is forced to be fully present, physically and mentally, to the moment, experiencing it with all five senses, and then allowing it to pass by, without casting judgment or making assumptions. 

Mindfulness is most often associated with yoga and meditation, as a crucial component of these practices is remaining grounded in the present moment, typically by focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. However, yoga and meditation are not the only methods of practicing mindfulness. 

Mindful eating 

Mindful eating is taking the concept of mindfully experiencing a moment, judgement-free with all five senses, and incorporating it into meal prep and mealtimes. It offers many benefits like preventing overeating due to distraction, managing one’s weight by selecting proper meal choices, listening to bodily cues and helping increase moments of relaxation in our day. 

Practicing mindful eating  

Practicing mindful eating habits begins before you even sit down at the dining table to eat; mindful eating starts with your grocery list. 

  • Shop mindfully – When you visit the grocery store hungry, you’re likely to shop based on the experience of hunger. Typically, highly sugary or salty foods will draw your attention, leaving you with a cart full of unhealthy items, not to mention a bunch of random things that sounded good in the moment but won’t actually make a nutritious meal. This is why writing out a list ahead of time is the first step in mindfully eating. It allows you to plan your meals for the week, take inventory of what you do and don’t have in your pantry and then shop accordingly.
  • Prepare mindfully – Mindfulness is about engaging and interacting with all five senses. While preparing your meals, find yourself observing the color and texture of the ingredients. Does it emit a fragrance when you cut into it? Is it rough, smooth, juicy or dry? Try to refrain from opinionated thoughts, such as “I hate cutting onions, it’s so painful,” and instead simply observe, “This onion is making my eyes water.”

How to eat mindfully 

After you’ve prepared your meal, the actual mindful eating part begins. 

  • Remove all distractions – This includes cell phones, laptops, TVs, books, magazines, newspapers, whatever it may be which keeps you from being one hundred percent focused on the meal in front of you. 
  • Engage with the food – This might sound odd, but in order to fully eat mindfully, it’s important to take the time to, again, use all five senses to engage with the meal. Is it sweet, sour, spicy or rich? Is it hot or cold? What does it smell like? What color combination does the dish present? Again, try to avoid judging the dish. Instead of deciding that you hate it, come to the realization that this kind of meat, this combination of spices, this flavor of soup isn’t pleasing to you, and let it be. 
  • Take note of why you’re eating – Are you eating because it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or for some other reason? Are you bored, stressed or tired? Did you grab something from the pantry because it coincides with your evening tv show? If you acknowledge why you’re gravitating towards food, you might be less inclined to eat as an unhealthy coping mechanism or subconscious action. 
  • Listen to your body – It can be easy to overeat with distractions. Why? Because it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal satiety to the brain, and if you’re eating handfuls from a bag of crackers while watching a show, it can be difficult to give proper attention to bodily cues. This is where mindful eating helps; through eating slowly and intentionally, you’ll have the wherewithal to know when you’ve eaten enough or when you should reach for a second helping. 

Benefits of mindful eating 

Because mindful eating challenges you to slow down and be intentional with the food you put into your body, there are countless benefits to eating mindfully, including: 

  • Allowing cravings to pass without indulging 
  • Weight loss through healthy food choices and less overeating
  • Focusing on more productive coping methods than stress eating 
  • Promoting heart health and controlled blood sugar 
  • Increasing variety in meals and food choices 

Not to mention the fact that mindfulness in general promotes better sleep quality, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, help for chronic pain and less stress overall.

To enjoy all the benefits of holistic healing and recovery, from practices of mindfulness to talk therapy, contact Pyramid Online Counseling today at 833-525-3077.