4 SIMPLE STEPS TO SET BOUNDARIES AND PRIORITIZE YOU

If you’re feeling burnt out, there’s a good chance you’re not looking out for your own needs. Start prioritizing yourself first with these simple steps.


BY: KELSEY FYFFE, MA, LPC

How good are you at recognizing when you need to set boundaries with yourself or others?

If you’re someone living with anxiety and a people-pleasing personality, you may notice that the same problems pop up over and over again. A common one is a struggle to say “no” in order to set boundaries for yourself and with other people. 

People pleasers have a tendency to say “yes” to everything.

Yes, I will drive you to the airport

Yes, I will help you finish your work

Yes, I will cut off my right arm and lend it to you.

OK. That last one was an exaggeration but you get my point. People-pleasers will say “yes” even when they want to say “no,” and even when it comes at a great personal cost to their own wellness. This is why learning to set boundaries with yourself and others is a valuable lesson in self-care.

That’s because boundaries mean more time for yourself.

If you constantly feel like you’re on the go, have no time to relax, and can’t complete your to-do list, you’re probably saying “yes” too frequently. Often times, there is really no good reason why you have to run yourself into the ground on a regular basis just to get all your tasks done.

When you prioritize your own needs before devoting time to the needs of others, you will suddenly find that you have a lot more opportunities to relax and engage in self-care. Here’s what to do.

1. Prioritize your urgent needs first.

If nothing terrible will happen by not completing a task (and that means truly terrible – like ending up in the hospital or getting fired from your job), then it isn’t that big of a problem. When you have truly urgent tasks on your to-do list, prioritize those first. Everything else in your life can wait. 

2. Prioritize the tasks that are inconvenient for you if you don’t do them.

This includes tasks such as your annual check-up, doing your laundry, or getting your car inspected. While there are often no terrible consequences in the immediate future (and therefore doesn’t require you to panic to get them done immediately), these are also the types of tasks that need your care and attention. Because eventually, there will be some consequences for you if you don’t. So do go ahead and pick up your dry cleaning or schedule that doctor’s appointment. These are the types of tasks you focus on after dealing with those urgent needs that were discussed earlier.

3. Reserve time for your fun self-care.

Once your more important tasks are done, reserve time for self-care. Don’t clean the kitchen or organize your closet. You may choose whatever form of fun or relaxation you prefer. Maybe that’s staying in for a weekend, talking to no one, and watching Netflix. Maybe that’s going out with your friends. Do whatever you feel you need to recharge your emotional and mental batteries.

4. Now, take care of the extra stuff.

What is ‘extra stuff’? It includes basic chores, cleaning, and social events you aren’t particularly excited about, as well as helping out your friends, family, and co-workers. It’s essentially everything else besides your most important problems, tasks, and self-care needs.

You likely noticed helping others comes last, and that’s because it’s important to put your own oxygen mask on before helping the person next to you. The key to preventing burnout and enjoying your life is to make sure your most important needs are taken care of before you help other people with their needs. (Remember, self-care counts as an important need!).

There will be times in your life when you have a lot of time for “extra stuff.” There will be times in your life when you have no time for extra stuff. 

Pay attention, adjust, and know that everything will be OK.

Adapted from the original post.
HEADER IMAGE: ALENA OZEROVA

Kelsey Fyffe, MA, LPC is a clinically-trained therapist based in Houston specializing in anxiety and eating disorders. By helping individuals recognize that their anxiety, worries, and obsessions do not have to hold them back from living the life they want, Kelsey helps them learn the skills and strategies needed to calm their mind and feel at ease. Learn more about Kelsey at Live Mindfully Psychotherapy.

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