You’ve probably heard time and time again about the importance of setting boundaries and priorities. You’ve also probably heard about how not having these things in life can have extremely negative effects on your wellbeing. But how?
There are far too many ways that these aspects can benefit your life, but one of them is through a decrease in stress levels. Here are 10 ways priorities and boundaries make your life stress-free.
1. It Reduces Conflict
Conflict is a huge source of stress for many. A lack of clear boundaries or well-decided priorities can increase the chances of a conflict. This is because having no boundaries means there are many potential spots for resentment to begin to form. Things that may potentially escalate to conflict due to building resentment include:
- Feeling taken advantage of by those who know you lack boundaries
- Being expected to hold everything up at a high-priority level
- Repeatedly saying “yes” when you would rather say “no.”
But when your boundaries are clear-cut, and you enforce them well, these problems won’t arise. You’ll have your time and space respected and will be able to say “no” to things when your plate is full. Without priorities and limits in place, relationships can go sour quickly with the contempt you may begin to harbor.
When you don’t have priorities, you’re stretched thinner and thinner, forcing yourself to perform a lot more work because you’re incapable of picking out the most important tasks. This can quickly lead to burnout, which is a form of mental exhaustion that leaves you incapable of performing your usual tasks at a preferable speed and quality level.
According to a study published in the New Directions for Youth Development journal entitled “Establishing and maintaining boundaries in teacher-student relationships,” teachers say that setting boundaries in their work can help them remain in their profession for longer as they manage to dodge burnout. The ability to set and maintain healthy boundaries made them feel more fulfilled, reduced their stress levels, and added a positive influence on their personal life.
3. It Maintains Healthy Emotional Energy
People think of physical and even mental energy with a little more seriousness than emotional energy. But it’s just as possible to become exhausted emotionally due to a lack of boundaries. As mentioned previously, having no limits can lead to a buildup of resentment. This can often impact your identity, self-worth, self-esteem, and even your confidence for self-advocacy.
You need to set boundaries if you want to have any energy left over for yourself. More importantly, emotional boundaries can shift depending on your current emotional state, and you need to be able to communicate that with others. For example, when you’ve just been through a breakup, you’d be much less likely to want to listen to a friend rant about family troubles than if you were in a happier state of mind.
4. It Makes You More Compassionate
It’s a common and unhealthy misconception that it’s mean or rude to set boundaries. While it’s true that boundary-setting can make some people a little uncomfortable, especially at first, the fact is that boundaries will make you the opposite of cruel!
As a matter of fact, boundaries can actually make you more compassionate. This is because you’re respecting other people by being direct with them about where your limits lie, and you’re more likely to respect their limits as well. It can seem harsh, but it’s a kind act that ensures no one will be kept guessing with you.
But what does compassion have to do with stress? Well, kindness is a kind of prosocial behavior, which has been known to:
- Boost positive thinking
- Aid in stress management
- Help reduce perceived stress
- Improve emotional balance
So, basically, setting boundaries is a sign of compassion, and compassion can help reduce your stress levels!
Codependency refers to behaviors in relationships that involve mismatched priorities, a lack of boundaries, and unhealthy attachment styles. It can occur in any relationship, whether romantic, platonic, familial, professional, or anything else. Codependency involves:
- Lowering your own needs in priority levels
- Becoming too preoccupied with other people’s needs
- A lack of limit-setting for healthy emotional space
- An absence of autonomy, independence, or self-sufficiency from one or both parties
- The subconscious belief that only others can provide you with self-worth
A lack of boundary-setting can cause people to form codependent attachments. Someone with a codependent personality may have further difficulty setting these limits, to begin with, adding fuel to the fire. If you don’t set boundaries, it’s possible that you could become attached to someone codependently or become the attachment of codependency.
Codependent relationships are toxic at their core, depleting positive thinking, energy, and identity over time. On the surface, it’s clinginess at its worst. It’s a surefire way to end up stressed out and even traumatized on a deeper level, especially if this occurs in a close and personal relationship. Being able to set boundaries and priorities will prevent this from happening.
6. It Helps Keep Your Life Balanced
When you don’t set boundaries, you tend to accept more responsibilities than you can handle. The same goes for lack of priorities. Without a clear idea of what to focus on, you wind up heaping too much onto your plate, unable to say “no,” and juggling way too much at once.
That sounds stressful, doesn’t it? Well, obviously, that’s because it is! A lack of boundaries means you don’t get to balance your life – you’ll always have something to do, even when you don’t have anything left to give.
Setting boundaries means being aware of your limits and how much space you have to accommodate others, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. You’ll know when it’s time to put your foot down and turn someone down and when you have the capacity to add more to your to-do list. It’s a good way to maintain a stress-free balance.
Vulnerability is a surprisingly valuable trait. Bottling everything up and putting on a brave face in front of everyone, even your closest friends and partners, is often not healthy. This doesn’t mean you should throw tantrums whenever something goes wrong – and you certainly shouldn’t! But that’s where boundaries come in.
Having boundaries means you will feel safer when you talk to friends, family, and others. It means those close to you will understand what you need when you are vulnerable, and you’ll also know how far you can go before you overstep. It basically means you get to show those softer sides without worrying about harming yourself or others.
Vulnerability is a key factor in talking about emotions, seeking help from others, and being honest about struggles. If you’re not doing these things, your stress levels will mount as you receive no support and have to keep somehow all your feelings tucked away within you. It’s not healthy!
Do note, of course, that there’s a difference between being vulnerable and simply oversharing. It would be best if you did not overshare to make others uncomfortable, and this should be prevented by firm boundaries regardless.
8. It Gives You Space For Self-Care
Caring about yourself is crucial, but you can’t do that in a positive way if you don’t learn to set boundaries. Without self-care, you’ll be more and more stressed out, burning yourself at both ends without ever stopping to make sure you’re alright. Having strong boundaries and prioritizing your self-care means:
- You’ll have time to rest and recuperate, reducing your stress levels by evening out your schedule
- You’ll have more energy and time to do the things that you love and enjoy without feeling guilty
- Your needs, whether mental, physical, or emotional, will be healthily expressed and met by those closest to you
- You’ll be able to organize your time so that other people don’t monopolize your life
9. It Can Help Strengthen Relationships
It’s not uncommon for people to feel a little uncomfortable or even slightly offended when you first communicate boundaries. To those who have known you for a long time, the inclusion of boundaries suddenly in your relationship can be a cause for concern.
But if you explain your need for boundaries well and communicate in the clear, positive, and kind manner, in the long run, having priorities and boundaries makes your relationships stronger. This is because boundaries will do these things:
- Stop unsafe and toxic patterns in relationships, such as codependency, taking each other for granted, and overextending.
- Allow all parties in a relationship to feel comfortable with putting themselves first when need be
- Prevent relationships from becoming overwhelming, especially new ones
- Communicate differences in love language, comfort, and preferences in a healthy and direct way
- Show you who your real friends are, who you can trust, and who to cut out from your life.
A stronger social support system of healthy relationships reduces stressful conflict and can help you better manage your stress levels. You may not realize it, but having good friends often means having a good circle to keep you afloat in hard times!
10. It Defends Your Rights
As a human being, you have many rights that you could be pushed aside due to a lack of boundaries. But these rights are the bare minimum for your mental and physical wellbeing, and without them, you’re sure to fall victim to problems related to stress and other struggles. For example, with boundaries, you know that you have the right to:
- Respectful treatment from others
- Make mistakes and learn from them
- Say “no” without being made to feel ashamed, selfish, or guilty
- Define your own expectations, without the influence of others
- Put your needs first
These rights and boundaries are ones that are often missing in the lives of those who don’t know how to protect their priorities. If you want more positive wellbeing, make sure you have boundaries that allow you to enjoy these rights!
Stress is a typical part of daily life. There’s no real way to escape from the clutches of something like stress. But making sure that you have priorities set and boundaries in place could significantly help keep your world a little bit more peaceful!