Guest post by eLuma Speech-Language Pathologist – Laurel Mendoza, MA, CCC-SLP, in partnership with Everyday Speech.
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
“Give them an inch, they swim all over you” -Sebastian, the Little Mermaid
What do you do when your work hours end? How many of us actually shut off the computer or put away the papers and walk away? How many of us have said “yes” to things asked of us so that we might be perceived as capable, dependable, and hard-working (only to feel exhausted, not in control, and overwhelmed)? How many of us want to say no but do something anyway so as not to offend or inconvenience a friend or family member?
“A boundary is a limit you place on the behaviors of both yourself and other people. It is the way you communicate what is and isn’t acceptable, or how others should and shouldn’t treat you.”
As educators and therapists, we know stress and hard work are part of the job, but it is imperative that we learn where to draw the line between working hard and OVERworking.
With recent article about teacher overtime from We Are Teachers has been circulating around the internet of late. The article, entitled “It’s Time To Stop Wearing Teacher Overtime as a Badge of Honor,” refers to the concept of “toxic productivity” and how working ourselves to the point of exhaustion should not be a badge of honor. Somewhere along the way, it has been drilled into us that waking up early, working all day, and then working late into the night means we are dedicated, motivated, and all in all, a prime example of someone to be admired for their work ethic.
Not defining clear boundaries and expectations is a disservice to both ourselves and others. In the absence of these conversations, we may feel dismissed, not respected, or unheard. In the work environment, this can often lead to burnout.
The idea of setting boundaries may sound daunting. Here are some ideas to start:
10 Tips for Setting Boundaries:
Know your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual limits.
Communicate expectations clearly and consistently.
Accept that not everyone will respect your boundaries. Know that you can’t please everybody and that’s okay.
Focus on the things you can control.
Examples: Remove work email and messaging from your phone, only check your email at designated times of the day, and close your laptop and leave it at your desk before moving on with your evening.
Avoid comparing yourself to others; everyone’s situation is different.
Ask for help when you need it.
Take time off when you get it, when you need it, and when it’s offered.
Learn to say no. No is a complete sentence.
Set time limitations.
Examples: Do not respond to work-related communications after a designated time, take advantage of technology (set automatic timers to turn off your Wifi at a certain time, using applications that time you out of specific programs at the end of the day), or block out specific hours of the week set aside for specific work/projects.
Remind yourself that by setting boundaries, you’re honoring your needs.