Boundaries in the Time of COVID-19

Updated: Apr 5

Well, here we are. I highly doubt any of us expected to be in this current situation. As we navigate uncharted territory, it might be helpful to take some time and consider the various boundaries you want to set with your friends, family, work, the news, and even yourself.

WITH FRIENDS

Sometimes it feels fantastic to connect with friends; while other times it can leave you feeling more alone or even more anxious. At first it seemed that everyone was jumping to do virtual hangouts and happy hours. However, as time has passed, some may experience virtual social fatigue. It is okay to say no to Zoom or FaceTime meet-ups. Staring at a screen all day can be exhausting (you might want to invest in some blue light blocking glasses). It’s perfectly fine to skip out on these interactions.

You might also want to think about your limits and boundaries when it comes to what you talk about. Most of us are pretty much only thinking about current events, but if you need a break, it’s okay to let your friends know that you want to skip the COVID talk right now.

WITH FAMILY

The same goes for family. Think about what limits you want to set with them during this time. If you are currently residing with your family, what personal space boundaries do you need? Taking some time for yourself in a separate area in your home is perfectly reasonable. Most of us enjoy some alone time, and now we might not get that chance as often.

Going for a solo walk or drive is a safe and healthy way to get some space. Go listen to your favorite song, meditate, or scroll Instagram. Do whatever you need to feel grounded and recharged.

“We cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of another person’s feelings.”

–Melody Beattie

For anyone that needs to hear this, you are NOT responsible for anyone else’s feelings. You can be there for your friends and family. You can listen and try to support as best you can. However, you cannot manage their feelings for them.

WITH THE NEWS

It is always important to stay up-to-date and informed. However, there is such a thing as "too much” when it comes to the news. As the virus spreads, it may become difficult to hear stories from the front lines. It’s okay to take a break from all of it. The news will still be there when you are ready to consume it.

You might also want to think about doing something enjoyable after reading or watching the news. As things get a littler heavier and more upsetting, think about how and when you consume information. Make sure you are emotionally ready to hear or see information that is upsetting.

WORKING FROM HOME

Some of us have worked from home before, but most of us have not. Now is a good time to think about what your want your schedule and workspace to look like. Keeping your routine as similar to your previous one will help to keep you productive and will also be useful when we transition back to your old work life. Think about setting up your workspace to be as clutter-free and organized as possible. Most of us will be improvising and working from less ideal places. That’s okay, we are all doing the best we can in these circumstances.

Another boundary to think about is your actual schedule. What time do you want to start work and when is your “hard stop?” If you don’t take time for breaks or quick walks outside, you will find that you are just working all day long. Everyone needs a break. It’s okay to not to respond to emails 24/7, even if your boss is sending them out that frequently. (PSA to managers: stop sending emails 24/7!).

FOR YOURSELF

What are some of the boundaries you’d like to set for yourself? What are you willing to let go of during this crisis? Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Practice grace and patience with yourself. There is no “right” way to handle this situation right now. Do the best that you can and forgive yourself for watching too much television or doing “nothing” all day.

“If your compassion does not include yourself it is not complete.” –Jack Kornfield

Again, cut yourself some slack! I promise, you’re doing a great job. Hang in there.



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