Do You Need Better Boundaries At Work?

Do you feel stressed at work? If so, you’re not alone. Research shows that a quarter of Americans indicate their job is the leading cause of stress in their lives. Moreover, 70% of adults report that workplace stress negatively impacts their relationships, and 50% of people routinely bring their work home.

While some stress may be unavoidable, learning to set healthy boundaries at work may reduce excess tension, pressure, and anxiety. Let’s get into what you should know.

Signs You Need Better Boundaries at Work

How do you know that you need healthier limits? Sometimes, the signs are apparent. Other times, they are more subtle and covert. Here are some key takeaways to consider.

You Feel Resentful

You hate your boss. You can’t stand your coworkers or clients. You feel angry the moment you wake up because you’re dreading your day.

Resentment is one of the leading symptoms of burnout. Experiencing it may strongly indicate you need to consider boundaries.

You Feel Constantly Overwhelmed

You feel like you’re drowning in work. No matter how hard you try, it seems like you just can’t get ahead.

Saying “yes” to every project or assignment may inadvertently cause people to take advantage of your flexibility. But having too much on your plate will only add more stress and anger- hence the need for better boundaries.

You’re Always Available

Many employees believe they need to respond to work crises at any given moment. But, unfortunately, some bosses also set this impossible precedent.

But crises are subjective, and working around the clock doesn’t allow you to recharge your emotional batteries. If you struggle with always “being on,” it’s time to consider your limits.

You Fantasize About Quitting Often

It’s normal to consider switching careers or dreaming of winning the lottery and never having to work again. But if you spend most of your working day thinking about how miserable you are, it’s time to reassess the situation.

You may need to seriously reconsider the job itself. Or, you might have to start setting some hard limits in the workplace.

What Boundaries Should You Set?

Learning how to set boundaries at work starts with identifying what needs to change. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so spend some time reflecting on the patterns that most bother you. With that said, here are some common boundaries that employees find helpful to set.

Define Your Working Hours

Unless your job truly requires 24/7 “on-call” requirements, it’s time to clearly define the hours you work. You need to define this for yourself and the rest of your team.

Let people know when you are and are not available. If you are not available, don’t read, respond, or attend to work duties. Doing so only sends the message that you are, in fact, around and can swoop in at any time.

Furthermore, clarify what constitutes an actual emergency. This definition will vary based on your occupation and workplace responsibilities, but it’s important to genuinely understand what does and doesn’t warrant your response.

Communicate Your Needs

Your boss and coworkers cannot read your mind, no longer how long you’ve been working together! Therefore, it’s your responsibility to accurately share your needs and concerns as they arise.

For example, if you believe your boss is putting too many tasks on your plate, speak up. Let them know the reality of the situation and ask for support if needed. Or, if you’re asked to work on a day off, remind them that you’re unavailable during those hours.

At times, assertive communication may feel uncomfortable. However, people respect those who can articulate and express their needs clearly. It’s much more stressful when others have to guess what you want (or don’t want!).

Say No More Often

Even if it feels scary, it’s okay to turn down requests at work. However, agreeing to every project or obligation invariably results in stretching yourself too thin. Over time, this can lead to poor performance and productivity- and it can profoundly affect your emotional well-being.

Saying no doesn’t have to just be a straight no. You may consider proposing an alternative suggestion or giving a rationale as to why you’re turning down the offer.

Here are some sample scripts to consider:

  • “I wish I could help, but I am too busy with X, Y, or Z right now.”
  • “I’m not available for that, but maybe you can ask ____.”
  • “I can’t do that, but how about I help you with ____?”
  • “This week isn’t good for me. What about in two weeks?”

Final Thoughts

Setting boundaries at work allows you to feel more balanced and focused at your job. It can also help you focus on other priorities, such as your personal relationships and outside interests.

If your workplace stress continues to affect your mental health, it can be beneficial to seek therapy. Together, we can explore your difficulties and discuss valuable strategies for managing these obstacles. Contact me today to learn more and get started.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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