I think it’s fair statement that almost every one of us has been feeling stress and anxiety for the past six months, given everything that is going on. For those of us who already struggle with chronic anxiety and overwhelm, this has been almost unbearable. That is why I think we need to keep the conversation going about anxiety.
On the podcast today I talk about the connection between the lack of healthy boundaries and struggling with stress and anxiety. When we can’t say no, we cannot therefore say yes to ourselves. What do I mean by this?
Well let’s say your friend calls every other day in the morning because it’s a good time for her. She likes to chat and tends to go on and on about her life. Meanwhile, this is NOT a good time for you, since you are getting ready for work. But rather than not take the call, or tell her you are busy, you pick up because the guilt that hits is overwhelming. She is your good friend after all, and this is the best time for her. So you are half-listening, trying to get dressed with one hand and growing more and more frustrated and resentful like you did every other time.
Not setting limits is allowing. We allow others to intrude on our time, emotions and space if we do not draw a line. Often the unearned guilt such as in the example above, or fear we will lose love or respect can keep us from saying no. We avoid conflict at all costs, we People Please and resent others because of our avoidance. We are stressed out, struggle with anxiety and panic, and feel worn out. Having boundaries is the best remedy.
Better boundaries may seem like it’s MORE anxiety at first but believe me it will begin to feel better. But then the relief! It feels emotionally safer, because it actually is. You can relax knowing that agreements have been made, everyone knows the deal, and most importantly, you feel your needs are being honored.
Better boundaries will help you have calmer, healthier relationships. Without them, you lose yourself in situations and relationships by not speaking honestly and risking saying no. Eventually you will lose YOU in the process. You disconnect from your truth, your feelings, your needs. Your dreams. That all becomes others’ feelings needs and dreams, because you have melded with them – creating a boundary blur.
Less Chaos and More Peace. When you have boundaries, not trying to do too much, and no longer worried about everyone else, you calm down. There is much less fear about “what might happen if…” and more satisfaction because now you can actually function better! I believe that is why my stressed-out clients often do well on vacation, because the boundaries are already in place so they are “limited”. They are not home where they can pile on tasks and get entangled with taking care of everyone else. The answer is to institute more structure at home so you don’t have to “run away” to feel calm.
So take some time today and think about your own structure. Is there enough or are you still feeling overwhelmed? How easy is it to say no to others, and even yourself? Getting a good coach to walk you through the process and hold you lovingly accountable is key, because it’s too easy to relapse and fall back into old habits.
For now, just breathe a bit, create some awareness and begin changing slowly. It will be worth the work.