Boundaries: the key to self-care?

by Clementine Team, 24th April 2023

Self-care. It’s the thing we’re all told to do. The thing we’re told to prioritise. The thing that everyone who looks like they’ve got their sh*t together lists as hashtags under their social posts. But in a world where we have more and more to do, how can we make sure that self-care doesn’t fall to the bottom of the list? How can we even take it OFF the list? 

The key to self-care: boundaries. 

Too often we think of those who can regularly incorporate beneficial routines into their lifestyle as having a “balanced” life. But actually, finding balance requires constant thought and adjustment. It means that we’re in a state of juggling, and quite frankly, it’s an ideal state of being that can feel really unrealistic to achieve. 

What if we focussed on boundaries over balance? 

Simply put, boundaries are the line that exists between us feeling ok and not ok. When we start thinking of them in this way, we might find that we view our days, our relationships and our actions a little differently. 

You may think that boundaries are all about saying “no,” and while this can be a really powerful part of setting boundaries, it’s really about figuring out what will help keep you feeling safe and “ok.” Setting boundaries is an act of self-care in itself, as it helps preserve our energy and helps us to navigate life in a way that feels most authentic to what we know is right and best for us.

But boundaries can also really help protect your practices of self-care too. They can help you find ways to prioritise and incorporate self-care so that it becomes innate to us, rather than feeling like some extra curricular activity we need to find time and space for.

What do boundaries around self-care look like?

“It’s a paradox but without the limits we place on ourselves, we don’t get to feel free.”  Kim Palmer, founder of Clementine

Self-care boundaries can look like anything from screen-time settings in your phone, a weekly walk, only have a set amount of events in your diary or thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Setting boundaries can feel like an extra task, but once they’re considered and ingrainedm, they actually allow us so much more freedom. 

A good first step is to think small. Self-care doesn’t have to be hour-long activities. They don’t have to be things you pay for either (check this out for accessible self-care ideas!) Setting a self-care boundary could be doing breathing exercises whilst you make your cup of tea in the morning, blocking out your lunchtime in your calendar, or checking-in with yourself before getting out of bed every morning. 

The point is, all of these activities do require boundaries and accountability to ensure that we protect the time, energy and space it takes to do them. And the more often we do them, the more we’ll find that they become apart of every day life, rather than an add on to the ever growing to-do lists.

Ati, of Surrey Hills Wellness, and host of our beautiful quarterly Collective Hugs (which are free, register here for the next one), offers her views and wisdom on how we can use boundaries to help us return to a place of self-care that doesn’t involve consuming more, but finding things that add true value to our wellbeing.

“Our modern day outlook can be quite corrupted in the way we view the concept of self care which incidentally is also tied up in the context of boundaries that we have for ourselves and others.

We exist in a world that stresses on pushing boundaries and going beyond what we may or may not see as normal. And when we aren’t firm with our boundaries or have a boundary in place, then our self-care is pushed to the bottom of the ladder, or the bottom of our to do list, and it becomes a ‘task’ rather than becoming a natural way of living and caring for ourselves.

And perhaps, from childhood we have been taught to push ourselves to succeed - and the success is about our status in society. We are not taught to be successful in self-care.

We live in a performance based world (this isn’t to be confused with intentions or aspirations) so we may not have been taught to listen to a nervous systems, for example when we are exhausted.

And when we don’t have this learning, or when we are not taught this to become a natural part of our living here as human beings, then our boundaries become scattered and we become deregulated.”

Ati lives with a stutter, and this stutter has been a part of her self-care journey from the age of four. At times, the stutter was so debilitating that Ati didn’t speak for extended periods of time because it was too difficult. It was too much of a struggle.

Her mum taught her the concept of mindfulness by asking Ati to peel a pomegranate slowly and over weeks and months, this conscious peeling of a pomegranate slowed down her racing thoughts. This was the first introduction to mindfulness and ultimately a form of self-care. Unbeknownst to Ati her mum was teaching her how to care for her mind, and when her mind was relaxed, Ati was able to tend to her heart space.

After they peeled a pomegranate, they would sit around the table and massage each other’s hands. Ati ‘s mum used to say that her hands carried everything including pain and never answered back so the kindest act for her hands was to greet them every night.

Tools to help you set boundaries 

Setting boundaries can be tough to do, but we’ve got some supportive sessions to help guide you on your way. 

Check our all of our boundary sessions and work your way through them. Start with the "Define your boundaries" session where our expert hypnotherapist Hazel Gale teaches you all about what boundaries are and guides you through setting them.

There's also a sleep session to help your subconscious mind strengthen it's work on boundaries as you sleep, and this great quick morning session (only 4 mins!) to help you get the day started with boundaries at the forefront. 


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