Mental Health Moments: Four Ways to Establishing Boundaries in the Workplace

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten 

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we sometimes neglect to take care of ourselves. We may take care of our outer appearance with personal hygiene, a new daily set of clothes and other worldly goods. We go through the motions of work and other duties, only to compartmentalize our feelings and never readdress them.

One of the ways to practice better self-care is to create boundaries. I’m a people pleaser from way back, so setting and maintaining boundaries isn’t always my strong suit. Whether you constantly say “yes” to ever career-based opportunity or never miss a family event (even though it is at the expense of your mental health), you can recover from your people-pleasing ways and regain your sanity and coveted schedule. defines a boundary as “a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends … [t]he purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you.” Boundaries can be established in professional and personal relationships to establish a truer sense of self and lessen stress-induced anxiety and other mental-health disorders. Boundaries can be rigid, porous or healthy.

Since most of us spend the majority of our time at work, setting work boundaries is essential for a healthy and holistic approach to life.

Here are four ways you can set boundaries in the workplace:

Always communicate.

Staying silent doesn’t help anyone, and being passive aggressive through your behaviors isn’t the best way to let your boss and colleagues know what you are thinking. If something doesn’t sit right with you, speak up. An internal guideline could be unclear or you could 100 percent disagree with a practice within your workplace. Be constructive and professional, but always let your thoughts be known. That way, others around you know where you stand. You won’t have to sit at your desk fuming because an issue or question hasn’t been addressed.

Know who you are.

In my early-to-mid-20s, I was still discovering who I was personally and professionally. Handling boundaries wasn’t always easy for me, but I still knew my values and professional code of ethics. Never deviate from them. If something causes a rise within in your intuition, pay attention. This is often a situation that calls for some boundary setting. Do what is best for you and your organization.

Set a schedule.

All of us have been in meetings that seem to last a century. If you have control of the meeting or at least a say-so, make sure you have a clear agenda and are cognizant of others’ time, as well as your own. If you say the meeting will be an hour, try to keep the agenda on track. There will be times attendees will bring up new business or something completely unrelated to the meeting at hand. Redirect the conversation. If people are constantly coming into your office or calling you after hours, establish your own work schedule and only respond during those times. Emergencies happen, sure, but creating schedule boundaries will help others know where you stand. Take that well-deserved vacation, too!

Don’t say “yes” all of the time.

I am the Queen of “Yes.” When I was building my career, I had a tendency to say “yes” to almost every email request and accepted invitations to events I didn’t necessarily want to go to. Now that I have invested thousands of hours and almost 10 years within the public relations profession, I am more comfortable with working around my own schedule and not other people’s. Of course, I am incredibly accommodating, but I also know when a “yes” will cause more stress than a “no.” Most people won’t care to delay a meeting, find someone else to help with a task or care that you didn’t attend that networking event on the same day as a loved one’s birthday party.

Read more about boundary-setting here.

Please note: These blog posts will not be clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Media, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten, APR is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Media, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV.

⌛ ⌛ ⌛