By Dale Isip

Whether you want to achieve your goals at work, return to in-office environments, or reach a comfortable work-life balance, it is important to set boundaries for yourself professionally. These boundaries can positively impact your mental health.

In 2016, 44.7 million American adults reported some form of mental illness, with 71 percent of adults reporting signs of stress or anxiety. In order to partly address these issues, and as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some ways to approach setting work-related boundaries.

Reasons for Boundaries

In the 2020 American workforce, there were over 1.1 million work-related injuries, 20,050 cases of which involved intentionally caused injuries, 255,490 cases from worker overexertion, and 41,010 cases involving transportation incidents.

Although professional boundaries may not address every issue, they might be helpful in avoiding some of the extremes faced in certain working conditions, such as the injuries described above.

This is because, ideally, boundaries are meant to protect your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The clearer you are about your comfort levels, goals, and ideal work environments – likely, the better your health will be.

Benefits specific to mental health include a greater sense of independence, better self-esteem, and a stronger sense of identity. The boundaries set may also help with stress and anger management.

Goals and Self-Reflection

In order to set boundaries at work, you must first reflect on your needs and wants. If you would like to make a certain amount of money, for example, you must realize you may have to make certain sacrifices. These sacrifices may include losses in time, or a comfort level in your physical or mental health.

The clearer you are about your goals, however, the easier it will be to set boundaries. You might want to take some time for self-reflection and write down specific and realistic goals for your professional life.

These goals can include when, where, and how you would like to work, how much money you would like to make, and what you are willing (and not willing) to do to achieve these things.

Setting Boundaries

Once you have a better sense of what you would like to achieve, you can start to set boundaries. In interpersonal relationships, this can be as simple as saying “no” to doing actions that go outside your boundaries.

Saying “no” tactfully is a skill, but the idea is to work within the boundaries you set – remember, these are for the goals you want to comfortably accomplish.

Other ways to respect your own boundaries include following through on your statements, taking responsibility for your actions, getting away from potentially dangerous environments, people, or situations, and not being assuming of other people’s feelings.

Keeping Healthy

With a healthy respect for your goals, you will be able to work within the professional boundaries you set. Being able to set boundaries can help you improve your mental health, keep your productivity up, and function in a way that is in line with your physical and mental well-being.