Saying yes to almost everything work-related is tempting, isn’t it? I mean, why would you risk saying “no” and risk your reputation with your coworkers or even your manager?
This habit of saying yes to almost everything at work can set you up for stress and later, burnout. By saying yes, you’re making yourself available to take on extra responsibilities (the one you probably didn’t need the additional stress of).
Did you know that according to a report by Udemy, work boundaries are the ones broken easily and regularly?
Deadline pressure, office bullying, toxic work environment are only some of the reasons for work-related stress. Stress at work not only affects your mental but physical health as well. You may find yourself struggling with signs of anxiety or depression.
By setting healthy boundaries at work, you can put some of the stress behind and might even prevent burnout while making sure you have a healthy work-life balance.
Why Work Boundaries Are Important?
Boundaries can be used to define a set limit in a relationship. Boundaries can be physical or emotional. In this scenario, we’ll be talking about the emotional boundaries to protect our mental and emotional peace at our workplace.
Boundaries are important because they help in protecting us by clarifying our responsibilities from others’. It helps us protect ourselves from draining our emotional energy and stay focused on our core values. Healthy boundaries at work can help your coworkers understand your limits.
Boundaries at work can lead you to have an efficient work experience, increase your productivity, and prevent burnout.
Poor work boundaries when it comes to work expectations, responsibilities, and communication can be stressful. Having healthy work boundaries can improve the overall social dynamics at the workplace.
Once you know your coworker’s boundaries and vice versa, you’ll be able to work efficiently and with a structure.
How To Set Boundaries At Work?
Here are some tips to help you set healthy boundaries with coworkers as well as yourself at your workplace:
1. Prioritize Your Values
One of the most important parts when setting boundaries at work is to prioritize your values. Your values define you so when you feel like your values are not being respected at your workplace, let others know. It’s okay to take a break to spend time with your loved ones. It’s okay to say no to overtime. You don’t have to say “yes” all the time. Your work matters but so does your values.
2. Communicate Clearly
Communication is an important aspect of any relationship – whether work or personal. Be open and honest about your boundaries with your coworkers and managers. If there’s an off-limits topic, let them know. However, don’t communicate all your boundaries at once. Take it one at a time. If you don’t want your coworker to gossip, let them know then, don’t wait for a week to pass to let them know.
3. Speak Up
When someone crosses your boundaries, speak up. Clearly state that your coworker is overstepping and needs to stop. Focus on being kind to let others know that they’re breaching your boundaries and that you don’t appreciate their approach. Being upfront will prevent them from making the same mistake again.
4. Take Breaks When Needed
Taking time offs is another important work boundary that shouldn’t be ignored. Understand that you work hard every day but planning a time off, a vacation or even a mental health break can help you unplug and recharge.
5. Focus On Home Boundaries
Maintaining a work-life balance is one of the most important work boundaries you can (and should) remember. When you leave work, don’t bring your work home with you. Even if you’re working from home, remember to close your laptop and silence your work notifications so you can focus at home after work hours end.
6. Don’t Skip Breaks
Many people, apart from you, feel guilty for taking breaks from work. But keep in mind that taking breaks can help maintain a healthy mental balance. Breaks can help you restore your mental balance and reduce work-related stress. So, the next time you notice your stress increasing, take a break from your work and go for a cup of coffee.
If You’re A Remote Worker, You Can…
7. Stick To A Routine
Routines matter a lot when it comes to working from home. You need to have a fixed schedule to begin and end your workday. Having a transition between work and home life can help you separate the two, preventing you from overworking. This will also make it easier to tell your coworkers that you have a separate life even if you’re working from home.
8. Have A Separate Workplace
If you can, make sure you have a different workspace set at your home. If you don’t have a separate room, you can use curtains or a partition to block your workspace with your living space. This type of physical boundary can help separate your work and home life effectively.
9. Say No To Video
This is another way you can establish work boundaries when working remotely. Turn off your camera during calls. If you work from home and don’t have a different workspace than your living room or bedroom, then you can refuse to share your personal space with your coworkers.
Be Ready For Overstepped Boundaries
Setting boundaries at work can be challenging and it’s common to experience pushbacks from others. Establishing boundaries at work is not a one-day process and many a time, your coworkers won’t even realize that they are overstepping boundaries.
Remember, not all people find boundaries worth establishing. Don’t take overstepped boundaries as a step back, take it as an opportunity to communicate clearly and helping others establish boundaries.
On the other hand, if your boundaries are constantly overstepped, undervalued, or disregarded, then there’s a possibility that you’re in a toxic workplace. Maybe it’s a sign that you might need a job change.
If you can’t change jobs, then make sure you put effort into stress management. Practicing meditation, joining support groups, or reaching out to a mental health professional can also help you cope with overstepped boundaries.
Boundaries will be overstepped but instead of being negative about it, you can use that as an opportunity to improve your communication. However you choose to repair your work boundaries, remember to be respectful, kind, and understanding towards your coworkers, managers, and other employees in your workplace.
I hope this article helped you understand why boundaries at work are important and how to set healthy boundaries at work without the expense of your mental health.
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