How To Set Healthy Boundaries As A Youth  

How To Set Healthy Boundaries As A Youth  

No matter what aspect of the relationship you're setting boundaries in, it's bound to improve your relationship in the long run. Here's how to understand your own boundaries and to set them.
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Setting personal and emotional boundaries is a way of letting other people know how far they can go with you when it comes to things like emotional support and labour, seeking your help or advice, or even in some cases how frequently you’re expected to get in touch. The primary criterion of a healthy boundary is one that is clearly stated and consistently enforced unlike an unspoken cut-off used as a means of avoidance.  But why is setting boundaries an integral part of any relationship’s success?  

Why Is Setting Healthy Boundaries Important?  

Boundaries are critical in creating healthy relationships and, more importantly, in taking care of ourselves. When our emotional boundaries aren’t respected, it can leave us feeling overwhelmed, enraged, anxious, and powerless and can trigger chronic anxiety, depression, and even trauma.  

How To Set Boundaries? 

Now that you have a firmer grasp on what boundaries are and why they’re so important for maintaining our mental health, you may be wondering how, exactly, to set the boundaries you need in your life. Here are some strategies and examples to help you get started. 

Boundaries At Work 

Physical Boundaries: Remember that when it comes to boundaries at work they need to be more rigid. Certain behaviours, such as sharing of personal information, sexual contact, and flirting—especially between management and staff—are generally inappropriate, and often illegal. 

Saying No: Another crucial—but difficult—part of setting boundaries involves learning how to say “no” to others. Often, we feel that we owe others a dissertation-level response to why we cannot do this task, go to this event, etc. “I’m quite sorry, but I cannot commit to working on that project over the weekend. I appreciate you thinking of me and having confidence in me, but not this time!” is a perfectly adequate response.” 


Prioritize: Work with your manager to get clarity on organizational, team, and individual priorities — then prioritize, ruthlessly. Turn off Slack, social media, and work email notifications while you’re doing deep work.  

Communication: Communicate your boundaries with your colleagues or your manager at work. It’s not uncommon to feel setting boundaries with your boss is really uncomfortable, but it’s crucial to keep everyone in line. 

This can include communicating to your boss how you like to receive feedback, delivering negative feedback to a team member with firmness and compassion and even communicating with your team about your preferred working and communication style among other needs.  

With Family 

When it comes to family members, the nature of healthy boundaries depends on the overall family dynamics. If your family members tend to be overbearing, fairly rigid boundaries may be needed for psychological well-being but if your family members are respectful and considerate, boundaries may be far more flexible in nature. Here are some ways you can establish them.  

Request Time Alone: It’s completely okay to request some time for yourself, even if you’re a guest in a family member’s home or vice versa. Just clearly state that you need alone time so you don’t make them wonder why you’re absent. 


Not Engaging In Family Gossip: Often drawing boundaries starts with removing yourself from toxic situations. We have all participated in gossiping with our family members, but such situations can lead to conflicts and feelings of resentment. One of the best ways to set boundaries with difficult family members is to ignore family gossip regardless of the circumstances. When you stay out of family gossip, it’s easier to avoid family conflicts and other drama counterproductive to your mental and emotional health. 

Privacy: Don’t feel obliged to tell every single detail of your life to your family members. If you’re uncomfortable disclosing something, don’t feel pressured into sharing.  

It’s Okay To Block That Toxic Relative: If a family member is using social media as a means to keep tabs on you at an unhealthy rate or to disseminate hateful opinions about politics and frequent requests of boundaries seem to get you nowhere, it’s totally understandable to that relative on social media. This act may hurt or enrage them but at the end of the day, you need to protect your peace.  

You’re In Charge: Remind yourself that you never have to stay in a situation that feels dangerous or toxic. If your boundaries are not being respected, you can always leave. You can try to talk through things if you feel that’s the best route to go, but at a certain point, especially if it’s been difficult for any amount of time, you can always simply leave.  

With Friends 

When it comes to friendships, most of us think they can sustain naturally. But in reality, just like any other relationship, boundary setting is massively needed in friendships too. Here are a few things that you can consider while trying to set boundaries with your friends.  

Preserve Your Individuality: Friends, no matter how close, should maintain their individuality and not feel like they need to always agree, be on the same page, or do everything together. In a healthy friendship, differences, personal space, and privacy are not a threat to the relationship.  

Express Your Wants And Needs Clearly: It could be something as simple as, “I was a little upset when you didn’t show up. I would really like it if you could let me know next time,” or “It would mean a lot to me if you came to the show this weekend.” Open communication is key to not just setting but maintaining healthy boundaries with friends and can also help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.  

Prioritize Your Priorities: While you might feel the urge to drop everything over a friend’s invite to meet, you must always consider your own priorities first. Check your schedule, don’t commit to helping a friend unless you have the time and energy for it, don’t ignore the signs of stress, burnout, and fatigue, and take time to relax when you need to.  

Boundaries With Yourself  

We usually think of boundaries as the limits we need to set and communicate with others but in order to be responsible adults, we need to set boundaries with ourselves too. Start with identifying different areas of your life that need structure or limits, such as finances, relationships, electronics usage, daily routine, physical health, nutrition, and emotional health, among others.  

While everyone’s boundaries are unique, these may give you an idea of what boundaries with self can look like.  

Stop People Pleasing: Trying to please everyone makes you vulnerable to spreading yourself too thin. The truth: you have a finite amount of energy and time. It is important to be judicious with your resources. 


Self-compassion: You are likely your worst critic. You secretly say things to yourself that you would never have the heart to tell another human being. 

Start Slow: Remember to have realistic expectations of yourself. When you set goals, consider whether you have set the bar at a reasonable level. Don’t try to set too many boundaries all at once.  

Bottom line 

As you practice setting boundaries, you may certainly feel anxious and unsettled until it becomes natural. Even if it’s tough at first, practice stating your truth with dignity, courage, and respect. 

About the author:

Suhasini Jha is a Mumbai-based ex-journalist who has previously worked with Firstpost and Moneycontrol.

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