Feeling overwhelmed? Pulled in too many directions? Perhaps even like your balance is out of whack? Let McKel Hill, RDN, help you rescue yourself. As a coach and the founder of Nutrition Stripped, she juggles plenty between her work and home life. Her sanity saving secret? She says it’s all about setting and enforcing boundaries. Here, the Well+Good Council member shares how to do just that and why it can create more space for yourself.
As a dietitian nutritionist, coach, and entrepreneur, I talk about balance a lot. With balance comes setting boundaries—I truly believe you can’t have one without the other. Taking care of yourself (however that looks and feels for you) is vital to your well-being, how you show up in the world, and how strong and confident you feel.
Sometimes it becomes easy to overcommit to work, social lives, or just extra favors, which leaves us feeling completely drained.
A boundary line can be physical, but most of the time, it’s mental and emotional—which may challenge you to a little abstract thinking and feeling. That’s possible whether you’re committed to running a business, putting your energy into your career, devoting time to your kids and family, going to school, being a busy bee in general, or literally doing all of the above.
Sometimes it becomes easy to overcommit to work, social lives, or just extra favors, which leaves us feeling completely drained. This can be unhealthy not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
That’s where setting boundaries can be so beneficial. Read on for 6 ways to build (and enforce!) them in your own life.
1. Learn to say no
Ask yourself if a given opportunity or task is bringing you closer to your joy, truth, or happiness. If it’s not a bold yes, then it’s a no. Saying no can be challenging if you’re not used to flexing that muscle—the self-care muscle, the one that requires continual work, practice, and rest to rebuild.
2. Embrace honesty
Be honest when you feel out of sync, off, or not right. Approach this with some curiosity rather than being hard on yourself. For example: “I wonder why I feel this way? What could be on my mind if this is making me feel…” And so on. Meditate, explore, and say mantras to get back in balance.
3. Define your non-negotiables in life
Once you do, stay on the path to nurturing those. For me, dealbreakers include my morning routine, having a date night with my love every week, hanging with family, exploring hobbies like art and things I love to do outside of work, and most of all: not overcommitting or overworking, which leads to burnout.
Creating and practicing a routine is one of the most powerful things you can do to train your body to stay centered.
4. Establish your routines
Once you set some boundaries to find what keeps you balanced, having a routine can be the framework to stay on track and accountable to yourself. Creating and practicing a routine is one of the most powerful things you can do to train your body to stay centered. There are many different kinds of routines: morning, evening, workout, workday, etc. Find the time where you tend to feel the most off-center, then create a routine for that time.
5. Check in
This is the most important tool. Throughout the day, ask: How do I feel? Do you feel like you have space in between your to-dos? Or are you rushing through to “get it done,” and the day becomes a blur? If it’s the latter, slow down. Take deep breaths, focus on what you need to accomplish and how you feel. If something doesn’t feel right, assess why. For example, if I’m tense while juggling work items and I feel off, most of the time it’s not because I’m taking on too much, but it’s because I’m not taking on the right opportunities for my true goal and what makes me happy.
6. Explore and experiment
Above all, give yourself some time to explore your boundaries. Play around with them, try them on, experiment, and do what keeps you feeling amazing.
McKel Hill, RDN, is a registered dietician nutritionist and the founder of Nutrition Stripped, which treats healthy food as more than just fuel—and gives expert advice on using its nutrients and flavors to make you feel amazing.
What should McKel write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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