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The Art of Creating Boundaries

A MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-UP

Article by Eboni Ward

Photography by Eboni Ward

2020, WHAT. A. YEAR! I just have one question for you: If you're the provider of your family, you may not have heard this in awhile. If you're the homemaker in the family, it may have been a few days since someone asked you this question, but be honest, take a deep breath and just answer yes or no. How are you? No, really ... how are you doing right now? How have you been managing the day-to-day stress of working from home, homeschooling, digital church services, virtual book clubs, and digital conferences? I know balancing everyone's schedule and needs while trying to find a moment for yourself to tend to your own needs has been difficult to say the least.

You are not alone.

Truth is, we are all struggling in some way, and if someone says they aren't, well just know their pants are on fire! There is no way anyone can walk away saying this year and its events haven't affected them in some way. Regardless of which side of the fence you sat on during this years ever-changing monthly unrest, we all have felt the pressures of stress. Some more than others have been facing anxiety, insomnia, depression and other silent battles throughout the year, and with holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share a few tips in hopes of helping someone through an upcoming silent battle.

You are not alone.

5 Ways You Can Create Boundaries and Stay Balanced this COVID-Holiday Season

1. Create a mental safe space for yourself

Before you get any further on this list, look around your home, look for a place where you can catch your breath that is out of sight from any potential spouses, guests, or kids. When things start to get overwhelming over the next few days, use that space for a quick 15-minute break. Store a few bottles of water there, a snack that won't expire (crackers, chips, etc.) or be sure to munch on the snack if it's perishable, and something to soothe your mind. This can be a certain scent, a video game, funny memes, prayer, journaling, or maybe just a pillow to scream into. Regardless of the where, be sure to create a safe place to lose your marbles for a second and hit reset on your mental state.

2. Phone a friend

It doesn't matter WHO that friend is—it can be your spouse, partner, best friend, a colleague, your parents, or your sibling. Just find someone who can be your vent-mate, a confidant that you can trust to listen to your needs (and you vice versa) and emotionally support you during this time.

3. Be direct with your needs but flexible in your approach

Know what you need in advance and "troubleshoot" possible problems before they happen. Explain to your partner, children, and friends the role you'll need them to play in order to make the holiday successful. If your spouse is the grocery store runner, be sure you have the list written down AND saved in text notes along with substitutions. If it's your children's job to clean a specific area, tell them to do it before you actually need it done; that way it's clean and you can divert their attention to another room to "hang out" in. Be flexible in your approach with any of your loved ones. Understand that "drill sergeant dad/mom" voice may not be what's needed for your partner and vice versa. Avoid future arguments and disagreements by addressing people by their love language instead of your heightened stress language.

4. Know your limits

Before the holiday starts, know what you are not willing to contribute and stay firm with your beliefs. The worst thing that will happen if you turn down someone's request or ask is that they will find someone else to help them. That's all. They may be temporarily upset, however, your peace of mind and sanity while navigating your first COVID-style holiday is going to be stressful enough. Do not feel the need to take on someone else's stress too.

5. Stay present

Anxiety is typically caused by your thought process over thinking a future situation, so when you start to feel that seemingly uncontrollable feeling of anxiety starting to bubble and rise up, follow these steps (screenshot and save to your favorites for quick access).

1) Close your eyes, place your hand on your chest and find your heart beat.

2) With your eyes closed, focus so intently on the beating of your heart that your outside noise fades away.

3) Focus on your breathing; count each inhale and exhale.

4) Take notes of the sounds and smells that are surrounding you and identify them (with your eyes still closed).

5) Repeat these steps until your mind becomes present and that feeling of anxiety starts to fade away.

We have had a stressful enough year as is. Let's practice healthy boundaries and contribute to our mental needs while balancing our families' needs. Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself space to breathe, and remember: "NO" is a complete sentence.

Connect with me on instagram @Fitt.eboni. I'd love to connect 1:1 with each of you!

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