Boundaries, in my opinion, is a very misunderstood concept and I believe boundaries at work and home have a huge role to play in adulthood. Many of us are familiar with boundaries from a young age. If we’re lucky enough our parents enforce boundaries and then so do our teachers at school. At this stage of growing up boundaries are often associated with something negative. How many of you have heard the saying ‘do not cross that line’ from your parents? Well, that’s basically them giving you some boundaries. Just like if you walk out of class at school you’d probably have got into trouble too.
But what happens when we grow up and leave the walls of the school ground and our parents grasp gets a little looser? We go out into the big wide world where we are free to make our own choices. It’s up to us to navigate our own paths and decide what we believe in and what we don’t. We learn our own versions of right and wrong and perhaps challenge some of the previous boundaries we’d been taught to live by.
Up until fairly recently, I hadn’t even thought about the concept of setting boundaries for myself, probably ever. But after giving it a lot of thought and implementation, I have no idea how I was living without them. Boundaries have played a crucial part in creating a balanced life for myself and honestly, I don’t know how achievable balance is without them.
What are Boundaries?
I like to see boundaries as tools. Tools to help us enhance our lives not limit them. I don’t like to look at boundaries as a set of rules but perhaps a set of beliefs or values that we incorporate into our every day so that we can live a life full of purpose, passion and joy. We can create boundaries at work and at home and I think that they have a paramount place in both.
Personally, the boundaries in my personal life are the ones that make an almighty difference. My boundaries that I apply at work help me to make sure I get the things I should like a decent lunch break.
Why Do We Need Boundaries?
I’ve come to believe that boundaries at home and work are basically a reflection of how I want to be treated, how I want to live my life and what I want to prioritise. My boundaries are focused mainly on my health and joy.
They’ve played a huge part in allowing me to just slow down and follow my heart. Some of the areas in my life where I’ve adopted boundaries are screen time, my health, sleep, what I do on workdays and how much time I’m willing to give to others. Setting boundaries for ourselves can initially feel selfish but I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. To live a life full of balance and joy we must first priorities ourselves.
‘Self-care is self-less’ as the saying goes.
Creating Boundaries at Home
So how do we start creating boundaries at home and work? Well, let’s start at home. In order to feel balanced between home and work, we need to make sure we are filling our days at home with joy. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that we all need to put the washing on the back burner and only do crazy wild activities instead.
What I’m saying is incorporating joy and the things we love into our every day will have a huge impact on our attitude at work. Think of how you’d feel going on shift knowing that you’re your days off were full of joy? Some of the boundaries I have at home are:
- Spending time in the morning and evening reading
- Prioritising 8-9 hours sleep
- Only concentrating on nursing on my nursing days
- Not making any plans after 12 hours shifts
- Scheduling in the fun first and then deciding when I’m going to do the housework etc
- Making time for my business every day even if that means cutting a coffee date half an hour shorter
- Saying no to social commitments that I really don’t want to engage in
- Not being on my phone whilst Dave and I spend time together
These are just some of the boundaries I try to focus on right you. You can see that it’s a pretty long list. That’s because setting boundaries doesn’t have to be a big deal. Take some time to think about what you want to do more of and what you want less of. When you have some ideas think about how you could create a habit around those concepts.
I know that I’m going to perform better at home and work if I get 8-9 hours of sleep. So instead of scrolling Instagram or doing something on my blog that could easily be done tomorrow, I prioritise getting to bed so I can have 8-9 hours sleep.
I’m also a suckler for pleasing people and saying yes to everything. I’m learning to only say yes to the things that really resonate with me and light me up.
This business I’m creating is also a priority so I set myself tasks that I have to do each day and I will cut down a coffee date so I can get those things done because it brings me joy! I know I’ll be much happier on my nursing days if I’ve prioritised things for my blog and podcast on my days off.
I create small boundaries that have an almighty affect. In doing so, I can live my life on my own terms and live a life that revolves around my passions, my purpose and my joy.
Creating Boundaries at Work and in My Nursing Career
This one can be a little trickier and perhaps awkward if you want to include other people in your boundaries. Personally, my boundaries at work involve things like, picking up extra shifts, staying late, not getting meal breaks and not eating properly. As a bedside NICU nurse, a lot of things are out of my control. So instead I focus on the things I can control. Some of my boundaries I’m focusing on at work right now are:
- Making sure I get my meal break even if it means delegating a task.
- Always being kind – you never know what your colleagues are going through
- Organising my time so I am not staying late. Unless it’s life or death there is no reason nurses should be staying late at work writing notes.
- Speaking up when I’m overwhelmed
- Only taking extra shifts if it resonates with me and I want to
- Only swapping shifts if I want to rather than just being a grade-A people pleaser
See what I mean about boundaries not being a big deal? I bet some of you read that thinking, shouldn’t you be those things anyway? Yes, of course. But, by setting actually thinking about it it’s like bringing it to the forefront of your conscious brain, rather than just being on autopilot.
I think we can all feel a little more balanced in our lives if we stop to think about some boundaries we can create for ourselves. We have boundaries in sports, in relationships, around the law, so why not create some simple ones to help live a more joyful and happier life? It seems silly not to right? Setting boundaries is all about taking responsibility for our happiness and how we want our lives to feel!
If you want to hear more about how you set boundaries in your nursing career then head over to Balance Before Burnout and listen to episode 4 where I dig even deeper into this juicy topic. Even if you’re not a nurse it’s a great one to tune into as most of the principles can be applied elsewhere.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and have found a little inspiration to go and think about your own boundaries at home and work. If you did enjoy this post then I would be so grateful if you could share it with your friends!