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Setting Boundaries: 4 Ways to Say You Need Some Space

Four polite yet assertive strategies to help you get a little breathing room.

Have you ever felt guilty about canceling plans or not responding to your best friend’s text message? You shouldn’t, but most women put so much pressure on themselves to do more that saying ‘no’ often feels like failure.

But taking mental breaks to refill your cup and reduce your chances of burning out isn’t defeat — rather, it’s an investment in your body and mind that can make you more successful than a continuous chain of ‘yesses’ ever could.

The trick is getting the people around you to realize that taking a little breathing room is normal, healthy, and necessary. To set effective boundaries, you need to strike the right balance of being polite yet assertive so you don’t risk ruining relationships.

Consider the following four strategies that can help you avoid brain-draining obligations without coming across as ungrateful:

#1 – Turn Cancellations into Positive Experiences

The fear of missing out is real, which is why we’re inclined to say ‘yes’ to every invitation or opportunity. But there can also be joy in missing out, especially when you don’t have to come up with weak excuses just to get out of a play date or dinner party.

When you want to turn someone down, be polite and thank the person for thinking of you, then explain that you’re taking some time to focus on yourself. You may even ask to schedule another time in the future to let them know you value their company.

#2 – Take a Family “Time-Out”

hourglass-timeout-boundariesMost kids are no strangers to being sent to time-out. Consider flipping the script and telling them you’re putting yourself in time-out (and watch them giggle about it). Tell them you need a break and will be back in “mommy mode” in ten minutes. Remind them that we all need some alone time.

#3 – Honor Your Inner Introvert

Despite most people identifying as an introvert, the world seems made for extroverts. Society tends to cater to people who are sociable, connected, and engaging. But don’t let this bias stop you from embracing your introverted qualities.

You don’t have to live up to anyone’s standards except your own, and doing otherwise would be doing yourself an injustice.

When you need space because you’re feeling the pinch of being social, say, “I love you, but I need some alone time.” It’s a powerful, clear message that honors your need to escape without your loved ones feeling like they’re a burden.

#4 – Stop Feeling Overwhelmed by Gaining Buy-In

Some people may need more alone time than others, but no one can thrive in the presence of others all the time. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a break, help others to see your feelings through your eyes.

Put your request into an honest question, such as, “Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing is going right, and you just need a little time to yourself?”

Questions like these are highly relatable and can help others understand what you’re going through without taking it personally.

Don’t Feel Guilty about Taking Time for Yourself

woman-outdoors-breathing-roomAsking for space is one of the biggest favors you can do for your livelihood. Don’t take it as a sign of weakness — it takes strength to recognize when you’re doing too much and stick to the boundaries that prevent you from breaking down.

Use these tips to give yourself some breathing room — you’ll be amazed at how much better and more empowered you feel.

Are you ready to escape the burnout culture? Let’s talk and start taking your life back!

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Felicia Baucom
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