Let’s talk balance. Not just physical balance, but also life balance. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you ever take on too much out of fear of disappointing others or missing out on something? Is the chaos of life causing you to run out of energy? Finding balance is important to your mental health, especially for overachievers like myself. We all have obligations, hobbies, relationships, work, and other priorities competing for our time and energy.
Balance is understanding and implementing boundaries as well as finding time for the things we must do and the things we want to do without adding more time to the day. Creating balance in your life leads to greater life satisfaction and wellbeing. Being out of balance can cause stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions and difficulty handling problems. It can affect our relationships, give way to frustration, anger and avoidance as well as contribute to physical health problems.
So, what are boundaries?
In relationships, a boundary can be defined as the line of give and take. It can also be described as how close you let another person get to you, or where you might draw the line. Boundaries say what is acceptable versus unacceptable in a relationship, they protect what we value and allow us to defend ourselves. Stephanie Tucker, author of The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook says, “But their entire design and purpose is to set the course for mutual respect, consideration, protection and safety in all areas of relationships.”
The goal with boundaries is to learn and develop a flexible boundary system in which you protect yourself, but also allow people into your life. Often people either get caught up in an open boundary system or closed boundary system. In open boundaries, people come and go in your life as they please with little regard for how you feel, and you base your boundaries on the needs of others. Or in a closed system, you’re so protected that you don’t let anyone get close to you at all.
How do you implement boundaries?
The first step is to acknowledge that you have the power of choice. You do not have to do something just because you feel obligated to. You have the choice to say no. Just because someone asks you to do something, doesn’t mean that you must do it. You have the choice to identify how you feel, and the right to feel those feelings. You do not need to change how you feel to satisfy someone else. The second step is recognizing that others also have the power of choice and that you cannot control, define, or change their emotions or behaviors. In setting boundaries:
1. Identify what is triggering you
2. Identify what you are feeling and what you need
3. Be clear and specific
4. Be Assertive—Firm & Direct
5. Do not negotiate
6. Do not apologize
How do I use boundaries to find balance?
Learning boundaries is an important step in finding balance in your life. You need to practice healthy boundaries so that you can balance priorities in your life. There are only so many hours in a day, and we can’t add any more. Some days it may feel like you need an extra 5 hours to get everything on your plate accomplished. You might begin to ask yourself the following question: what things are currently consuming my time and energy? Often our priorities get distorted along the way, meaning we are spending more time and energy on things that do not give us life or maybe don’t even matter in the long run. It’s important to make a list of where your time and energy is being spent, then assess whether those areas are life giving and line up with the goals that you have.
For example, if your goal is to have intentional time with your children, but you’re staying late at work and working on the weekends, your priorities might be skewed. Or if your goal is to become healthier but you’re watching too much TV instead of making time for exercise, your priorities might be twisted. You might desire a closer relationship with God, but instead of seeking him first in everything, you’re scrolling on your phone.
As you create a list of priorities in your life, you might want to assess your priorities by asking yourself why you are doing that activity—what are the motives behind it? What are the feelings driving your behavior? Who are you trying to please (God or man)? Does this task interfere with anything important in your life or prevent you from personal responsibilities? Have you taken on too much at one time?
For some encouragement, read Is 41:10 & Ps 23:1-3. What can you do this week to make room to enjoy those green pastures and quiet waters? To find balance? It’s different for every person, but first you must assess your priorities and implement healthy boundaries. Most importantly, prioritize your wellness.