Finding a work-life balance doesn’t mean just drawing boundaries at work. Making your home a safe space that is free from stress can also help prevent burnout.
Whether it’s a roommate, a partner, or a small army of children, the people you live with are important to you, so it’s just as important to draw healthy boundaries that protect your relationships and mental health.
When setting boundaries, be assertive. Maybe you’ve tried to drop hints to your roommate that you’re uncomfortable when their guests drop in without warning. But communicating this need clearly is more effective and will be more sustainable in the long run.
Try talking with “I” statements. You may feel like saying, “You always bring people over without warning, and that’s rude.” But that kind of finger-pointing puts them on the offensive, and they’ll feel like you’re being aggressive instead of assertive. Framing your concern as, “I feel frustrated when guests show up when I’m unaware there will be company,” gives your roommate a clear idea of what boundary and invites them to solve the problem with you.
Learn to say no
You may have a hard time saying no when your partner asks you to make dinner or your kid wants another few minutes watching TV with you. But if either of these requests violate pre-set boundaries like having Thursday nights off from dinner duty or getting to spend alone time with your partner after 8 p.m., don’t be afraid to say no. Restate your boundaries and offer an alternative like “I’ll take care of dishes tomorrow night” or “We can all watch a movie this weekend.”
Safeguard your spaces
It’s important to have your own physical and emotional spaces. If alone time is important to you, set aside an hour every night to decompress. If you need time with your friends, work time into your schedule for going out or hanging out via Zoom. Boundaries that protect your needs and help you feel more at home are important to protect.
Setting boundaries can be difficult if you or a loved one lives with mental illness. Alone time may turn into self-isolation. Certain behaviors may be triggers from traumatic experiences. If you need help navigating the boundary-setting process, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Couples and children’s counseling are available at Valley Oaks Health.