Life After Quarantine: How to Set Boundaries
By: Tajiya Holland
Over this past year and a half, many of our homes have turned into offices, coffee shops, movie theaters, gyms, and more. We’ve all had a peek into the personal spaces of others through Zoom meetings and live streams. While vaccination distribution continues in the U.S., we’re all trying to differentiate what we need and what we think we want as new social norms.
Quarantine gave us an opportunity for self-reflection and insight into what we want our daily lives to look like. Some of us have trouble balancing things out, some of us prefer and find comfort with life at home, and some of us are eager to get out and explore the world again. One thing we collectively have in common is blurred boundaries within some aspects of our lives.
Boundaries are not only to keep things out but to allow things in. They are what’s needed mentally, emotionally, and physically to feel safe and respected. As we exited quarantine, a new window of tolerance opened up. Setting boundaries is about expressing our different needs. This includes what we say yes and no to, and being honest with ourselves and others.
How to know if your life needs boundaries
Overall you may feel content with life. Compartmentalize to see what you may feel uneasy about in your workspace, socializing with friends or family, and with yourself. When it comes to life at the office, are you comfortable working before and after hours? Do you feel guilty about logging off and embracing free time? Generally speaking, is work enjoyable? As you find yourself spending more time with friends and family, do you ever feel taken for granted? Do you notice engagement in people-pleasing— saying yes although you wanted to say no? Paying attention to yourself, are you content with your behaviors?
Answering these questions will have you recognize when it is time to reassess and create new boundaries. Also, you don’t have to alter everything; take notice of all that works for you.
How to set boundaires
Set aside time to decide what you want to change and accomplish. Keep in mind that different relationships require different boundaries. Know your values as they’ll guide you to what you need. Here are a few suggestions as you create these healthy margins.
Consider your comfort levels
If you’ve grown fond of having more intimate conversations with others, continue to. A lot has happened during this pandemic, and some of it is not so great. Therefore taking a step back from participating in those discussions may be needed.
Know your audience
Some personal conversations you may want to have with a colleague but not necessarily with the whole office. Whether there’s fear of negative feedback or you don’t know everyone well enough, think thoroughly about what you share and to whom you share things. This can avoid discomfort for both parties.
You don’t have to be on display
Before COVID, most only presented the highlights of their life. There wasn’t much to show off during quarantine other than your WFH set up, new slippers, and maybe banana bread fresh out of the oven. Whether it’s online or in-person, while being appropriate, wear and show what you’re comfortable with.
Be aware of your time
It’s quite exciting to get back outside of the house, doing things that were prohibited for a year. You may find yourself wanting to do anything and everything with what free time you have. Don’t overbook yourself. Be mindful of what and when you schedule activities with others, as you don’t want it to take a toll on your physical and mental health and can use some of the time to spend with yourself.
When addressing your boundaries out loud, explain your reasoning and appreciation if the other person could follow them. Don’t expect them to want what you want, as this is your journey. Be respectful and understanding of others and their wishes as you would require the same.
Experiment with different approaches and ease your way back into the social world. As there isn’t one way to do life after quarantine right, boundaries will guide all relationships positively.