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Establishing Healthy Boundaries During COVID-19

Donzell Lampkins | August 3, 2020 | 4 minute read

Establishing Healthy Boundaries During COVID-19

Donzell Lampkins | August 3, 2020 | 4 minute read

Countless memes and commentary regarding COVID-19, and its severity, are circulating right now. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the information and mis-information we are constantly exposed to. Because of this 24 hour a day news and media cycle, discussing our emotions and beliefs about pandemic related issues can produce some anxiety. While some may view the situation as trivial, and minimize its impact, many of us are taking it seriously. You may hesitate with sharing your needs and preferences with family, friends, and colleagues due to fear of upsetting someone or being upset by them. You may, also, simply be tired of talking about “the rona.” Whatever you are feeling right now, it’s okay to set boundaries around your communication with others.

If family and friends want to discuss COVID-19 at a time that’s not good for you, simply say, “I’m not willing to discuss anything related to COVID-19. Thank you for understanding.” or “I’m not willing to discuss COVID, but I want you to be supported. Is there someone else you could talk to? I’d be more than happy to discuss something else that’s on your mind.”

No one should be angry when you set boundaries. Boundaries are a great way to guide people on how to respect and care for you. Boundaries also help you prioritize your own needs.

There are multiple areas in our life where we may need to establish COVID-19 boundaries. Some areas include work, school, and social media. You can look at how to set boundaries in these areas here:

Work
If you’re an essential worker, most likely, you’re working outside of your home.

If you are still going to work, some boundaries should include remaining 6 ft away from others, avoiding crowds when possible, and using personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, hand sanitizer, and anything specifically needed for your work environment.

Whether you’re working from home or not, it’s okay to limit communication with your employer to office hours. Be mindful of how much time you spend at work and limit how much time you give to volunteering or to working additional shifts.

If you are working from home, try designating a specific workspace to help you transition in and out of work mode. Let household members know what times you are and aren’t available. Be mindful of taking breaks and getting fresh air.

School
If you are a student, ask your instructors for clear expectations and guidelines as soon as possible. If in-person accommodations can’t be modified for online learning, request waivers for specific assignments. Limit your communication with professors and school officials to office hours as well.

Social media
Social media exposure and usage doesn’t have to be complicated. Limit your social media and news consumption by tailoring your usage to your own needs and desires. Your social media experience should enhance your life, but not overtake it. If you follow someone who is super political, and you don’t want to see those threads, mute them.

This feature allows you to remain friends on social media without seeing their updates.

Follow pages that are motivational or interesting to you. If the page makes you feel bad in any way, unfollow it. You’re not obligated to remain socially connected to any person or institution that isn’t beneficial to you.

Most people will respect your boundaries. When someone disregards them, try ending the conversation. If it’s a phone conversation, you can say, “I have to go. I’ll call you later.” If it’s a face-to-face one, try saying, “I need a moment alone.” or “Be right back.”

Boundaries aren’t complicated once we get comfortable with setting them. It’s all about how we deliver our need for space, respect, and limits.

There’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries. The only time people become angry with you for setting them is when they benefit from you not having any.

If you have trouble setting boundaries, consider seeking help from a trusted friend, family member, mentor or therapist who can help you become more comfortable with the importance of boundaries and how to set them.

About the Author

Donzell Lampkins MSW, LISW is a licensed mental health therapist who writes about life, love, health, and mental health topics.

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