How to Create Healthy Boundaries at Work

What are Boundaries?

We all naturally have boundaries in our relationships between us and the outside world, but sometimes these can get eroded over time. For some people having robust boundaries at work comes naturally; other have to create them. Creating healthy boundaries is not easy, but it is possible and is essential for a healthy work-life balance.

Unhealthy Boundaries at work

The first thing to do is to recognise where things are going well at work. Consider all of the priorities at work, and all of your personal priorities. This include your health, mental well-being and happiness. If you are compromising on those in order to fulfil your duties at work, recognise this imbalance. Now decide internally that you want to create healthy boundaries at work.

When we continually ignore our own needs, in favour of our work demands, we can be at risk of burnout. This is now recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’. This has increased since the pandemic, especially with the rise of people working from home. The lines between work-life and home-life has become blurred, and we are spending more of our own time working.

If we continue to ignore the signals of our minds and bodies becoming exhausted, the signals just get louder until they cannot be ignored. One of the best things you can do, is talk to someone who can help you put things in perspective.

Examples of Healthy Work Boundaries

There is a clear difference between the relationships within your home or social life and your work life. So it stands to reason that it should be easy to have healthy boundaries in your professional life. However, this is not always the case.

Physical Boundaries

Feeling comfortable and safe in your personal space is your right. Sometimes other people can make you feel uncomfortable (perhaps without meaning to). You can learn to create an invisible barrier to protect your personal space, use your words and body language to create this boundary. The energy you emit can also help you to protect your personal space.

Mental/Emotional Boundaries

When you have strong mental boundaries, you can express what you feel in a professional context, and be firm about requests.It makes it easier to be steadfast in your opinions and shows that you respect your own views.

Intellectual Boundaries

Good intellectual boundaries enable you to hold you own values and beliefs without being forced to adopt other people’s ideas.

How to Create Healthy Boundaries

There are a number of things you can do to create healthy boundaries when you feel overwhelmed and unable to say no to request at work.

  • Prioritising – Work out what is urgent and/or important. Sometimes they are important but not urgent; sometimes they are urgent but not important. Watch the video here (2.25 min) on the Urgent-Important Matrix.
  • Deleting – Is this task necessary? Is a one hour meeting needed, or could it be explained in an email?
  • Delegating – Can someone else do this task? Can it be outsourced?
  • Communicating clearly – Does someone need an update on progress on a project? A daily/weekly email update can help all parties understand how a project is progressing Can you list the steps needs to complete a project so that team members are kept in the loop? There are a wealth of project management software out there that can help.
  • Learning to say no – This is by far the one people struggle with the most. It is absolutely okay to say no. Especially when you don’t have the time, the resources or energy to take something else on. Saying no is not about you as a person. In fact most people will respect another person who is able to say no, and wish they could do the same.

Talking to a therapist can help you

  • understand why you have the feelings and symptoms you might have
  • see where your boundaries have become weak
  • create new healthy boundaries
  • set boundaries in all areas of your life
  • use visualisation to imagine the best possible outcomes for you
  • overcome life-long habits of people pleasing
  • improve increase your positive self-regard and self-love

The Inner Work to Set Boundaries

Creating healthy boundaries in relationships is at the heart of what I do as a therapist. Whether this is boundaries in our personal or professional lives, it comes down to self-esteem and self-love. When we have a high positive self-regard and deep connection within ourselves, it becomes easy to have stronger boundaries. This requires attention to do the inner work and improve our relationship with ourselves.

I’d love to help you with this. Get in touch to book your complimentary consultation today.




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