Have you been feeling exhausted, like you’re on the edge of burnout or a mental breakdown due to being pulled in all directions? This is a sign that healthy boundaries might be needed. Learning to say “no” is fundamental for maintaining balance and preserving your well-being when obligations, opportunities, and social demands overflow. Yet, many find this seemingly simple word unexpectedly tough to say. Saying “no” is a skill that allows us to consider our well-being and mental health by setting healthy boundaries with those around us. I want to share with you 5 tips on how to set boundaries effectively.

1. Look Within
Learning to look at how you feel and what has caused you to feel this way can help you determine where and what boundaries need to be set. Maybe you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with your job. Asking yourself things such as “Do I feel tired and overwhelmed because of a one-time event at work, or is this a pattern that is becoming too much?” can help to determine where the boundary needs to be set. This then allows us to know precisely what is causing us to have the feeling that we are having and can help us discover what boundary feels healthy.

2. Discover Your Worth
Discovering and acknowledging your worth as a human is necessary to feel more comfortable setting healthy boundaries. Your energy and time are very valuable and are important in maintaining your well-being. It is okay to preserve these priceless resources. Being able to recognize your limitations and know when you have no more to give is a vital step to putting yourself first.

3. Understand Where Your Priorities Lie
As noted in tip #2, your time and energy are valuable resources. Putting time and energy into things you are not happy doing or that cause your mental health to deplete is not sustainable. We cannot pour out of an empty glass. Each time you set a boundary with something or someone negatively affecting you, you essentially say “yes” to protecting and preserving your well-being. Understanding your priorities can help you know where to spend your time and energy to prevent burnout or overextending yourself. Choosing things that align with your personal goals or values helps maintain stronger mental health. Accepting and committing to things not aligned with your goals or values can lead to burnout and discomfort. Learning where your priorities stand is key in determining where boundaries need to be set.

4. Value Self Care
Learning what healthy boundaries really are and learning how to instill them in all areas of your life (i.e., work, relationships, school, etc.) is an essential part of valuing your own self. Many people feel that creating boundaries is a selfish act. This is not the case. Putting boundaries in place is a way of putting yourself first and acknowledging your importance. It is essential to be kind to yourself and recognize when boundaries are needed, even in areas of life or with people whom you love the most. Learning to value your own self-care and prioritize your own needs by doing things you enjoy allows you to give more to yourself and others later.

5. Be Assertive but Polite
Expressing your true feelings in a very direct and genuine way is key to saying “no” and setting healthy boundaries. Don’t leave room for others to question whether you want to do something. Using statements that are directed toward you instead of the other person can eliminate the possibility of them feeling like they are being attacked or blamed. For example, a statement such as “I cannot commit to being there right now” rather than “You are asking for too much from me” allows us to set a healthy boundary without putting the blame on the other person. This straightforward statement gets the point across and is polite in the way that it does not make the other person feel that they need to be defensive or that they are the problem.