Quick Check-In: Setting boundaries is part of your self-care. How are yours?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-10-27 16:46:08 -0500
Started 2012-10-15 22:24:28 -0500

It can feel pretty good to say yes, at least at the moment. But here’s something to ask yourself: When you say yes, what are you saying yes to?

If you are living with a chronic condition, you’re already the expert on the importance of making your own self-care a priority – being aware of your own needs, and your strengths, as well as the limitations that your condition may bring into your life, the good days and the not-so-good days.

So what happens on those days when your self-care ends up slipping a few notches on your list of priorities?

One important aspect of your self-care means setting boundaries. A boundary is basically rules or guidelines for what you need to have in place to be at your best – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Not sure if you need to take a look at the boundaries that you are setting, or not setting? You might want to look at your boundaries if you:

• Have that vague sense that you could be doing something more productive or healthy

• Feel annoyed or resentful when you just said yes to something that you know you will enjoy for the moment but you also know isn’t going to benefit you in any way

• Know you are going to be exhausted because you just promised away time that you had planned to use to take a break

• Wish that the energy you are using in taking care of other people was also being used to take better care of yourself

Think your boundaries might need some reinforcing?

I have some ideas to help you get started in my article in Living with Diabetes. Here is a link:


It would be great to know what you do about setting boundaries. Any ideas to share? Need some help?

14 replies

MrsCDogg 2012-10-24 06:15:06 -0500 Report

I spent 25 years as a CNA so I am very well aquainted with the demands others can put on us. I became very good at saying NO to my supervisors when they tried to "guilt" me into staying past my shift or working on my days off. I was also occasionally forced to work over time at one facility I worked in. The older I get the better I am at setting those boundaries. I have no problem saying no if I don't feel like doing what someone has asked of me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-25 18:24:57 -0500 Report


Nice to hear from you!

Wow, you were a CNA? I can totally relate. I was a nursing home orderly during my college years. So I know what you mean about how easy it is to get more and more involved, to the point that you are completely depleted. And the work is so rewarding that it is hard to say no.

A good place to learn boundary-setting! When you don't, you certainly experience the results.

Thanks for jumping in here!


veggielover 2012-10-27 11:23:32 -0500 Report

I was a CNA in the Hospital for 10 years and before that I worked in nursing homes for 20 years. I enjoy helping others so much, but since my back surgery I cannot do the heavy lifting involved in being a CNA. I've had lots of diabetic patients in the past, I remember taking some juice out to an annex one night, I got sprayed by a skunk on my way back into the nursing home. Needless to say they sent me home to bathe and change my clothing!

jayabee52 2012-10-27 16:46:08 -0500 Report

I also was a CNA for 10 yrs mainly as a home health aide. I got involved part time as a fill-in CNA, working in ERs, Medical wards & ect for 2 of those 10 yrs.

Unfortunately for me I had just been divorced and I needed the money so my boundaries were down. I believe my disability has its roots in my ignoring my limits.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-17 10:58:50 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary,

I have boundaries and have had them for years. I am not going to run myself ragged for unappreciative people. I will help anyone willing to help themselves. For those who do not wish to help themselves, I give them the tools and let them fend for themselves.

People will take advantage of others help. They feel it is their right to call at any hour, make demands and get upset when they are told you cannot or won't help them. Boundaries keep them at bay.

I am involved with two different kinds of community organizations. One is strictly community based the other is both based on the community and police department. I am the President of the community and police based organization. I have found that setting boundaries, at the meeting keeps people from coming to the meeting simply to complain about what the police are not doing or what the city isn't doing in general and it prevents them from being disruptive. I will ask the person complaining what have they done to solve the problem. If they say nothing, and the complaint is about drug dealing, I ask did you call 911 they say no, did you call the district commander they say no. I ask if you have done nothing and this has been going on for months, why are you complaining now. The response most of the time is I didn't know I had to be the one to call the police.

People will also bring you their drama. I refuse to be a part of it. If your boyfriend is cheating on you, dump him, if your kids or out of control, learn how to discipline them effectively. If you thrive on drama, please stay away from me. I don't need or want to be a part of your madness.

Boundaries help protect your limits and realms of areas of helpfulness. If you don't set boundaries you will find you have no time for yourself. Over time, you and your health will suffer. There is nothing wrong with saying no to things you really don't want to do for someone. If you don't want to babysit relatives children, bake someone a cake or run them all over town say so. Don't allow yourself to be roped into things that takes time away from what you have planned to do.

There are also people who will continuously want your help without ever helping you when you need them. Boundaries will stop them if you have them in place and know this person will never help you when you ask them.

The key is to never regret you said yes or no to something. If you said yes then you wanted to do this at the time you consented. If you really aren't sure you want to do something simply say let me get back to you. When you do get back to the person, all you have to say is you have something planned for that day.

More importantly, never ever regret saying no to something because you have plans to do something for yourself. You are the most important person in the equation when it comes to rest, relaxation and your health. If you don't take care of yourself, how can you take care of others? I have no problem with saying no to a request if I have something planned that I want to do for me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-19 16:43:53 -0500 Report


Thanks so much for sharing your esperiecnes and insight. You gave us some really great examples of setting boundaries.

I like the idea of rquesting that people discuss solutions and not just talk about problems. We can all learn from that, in so many areas of our lives. It's so easy to focus on what's missing, and not on what's working, or what could be done to make thing work better. Yes, there are a lot of drama-makers out there.

And I agree on maintaining a balance between giving to others and taking care of yourself. If you give yourself completely away, you just end up being depleted. We are not machines.

THe "let me get back to you" idea is a good one. It is a way of taking yourself out of the moment, and taking the pressure off yourself, so that have time to think things through. Get some distance before you make an automatic decision that you will regret.

Put yourself first and you will have that much more to give others, and you can give it joyfully.

Thanks again. I really appreciate this.

And take care,


ayled21 2012-10-20 16:39:29 -0500 Report

Thank You for your level of empathy. I love this website because I find people that go through similar situations and are able to understand me.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-19 19:05:20 -0500 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary,
I take Brain Breaks. In fact I took one last weekend. I enjoyed every minute. A Brain Break is when you think about absolutely nothing. I had been in a 3 month battle with a city agency to remove a tree from a storm. I finally won that battle last Thursday and took off my boxing gloves and took a much needed Brain Break.

Someone did something really nasty to my sister and I and we made it over the first hurdle successfully, we will finish this Monday morning. The sad part is the woman was busy making our lives miserable while needing help. When you are so busy trying to destroy other peoples reputations for no reason other than you can, you end up destroying yourself. She has lost all the help she would have gotten from those of us in the community who could have helped her.

Boundaries can work in other ways. Some people have no boundaries when it comes to maligning others or doing what they can to hurt or cause harm. What these people do not learn is that you cannot do things to people simply because you have the will power to do so. Sooner or later Karma will come back and you will end up with nothing. This person is now homeless and almost friendless because she spent so much time attempting to destroy neighbors and the few friends she had in the community.

Life is bad enough at times without making enemies of people who may be able to help you or who may not be able to help but knows someone who can. I prefer to help and pay it forward.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-21 11:59:45 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce,

I appreciate your wisdom here. Brain breaks are a great idea. It gives us a chance to regroup, to get back to the 35,000 foot view, and to get a perspective on our lives. I think that we are more likely to have healthier reactions, and make more rational decisions, when we have perspective, and are not so caught up in the moment.

And you identived an important point here. While we are setting boundaries with other people, we also need to set them with ourselves, including being aware when we are falling into negativity toward ourselves and toward others, and catching ourselves before the negativity gets out of control.

So often, what we are felling toward ourselves gets projected outwards. Being aware helps us to keep the negativty in check.

Pay it forward is a great attitude!

Thank you!


Mary M G
Mary M G 2012-10-16 18:22:43 -0500 Report

Thank You so much for the link, I thought it was me being insensative by not meeting EVERYONE elses demands, when in reality when I am having a really bad day, it seems I am not believed. I suffer terribly with Neuropathy in both legs, it's chronic, never goes away. I've cried myself to sleep many nights. It has changed the quality of my life something aweful. I tell them that until they are in my in my shoes (literally) or educate themselves on this, I have nothing else to say to them. Seems they just do not understand how painful this can be and therefore they think I just do not want to help them that day, when in reality even when I am in pain I STILL do what I can for them…but I got to tell you, it has taken it's toll on me. When I push myself to help out, I pay dearly for it the next few days.
Here's hoping that more people in the world educate themselves and become more comppassionate towards people with diabeties and all that comes with it. That article helped me tremendously, thank you for sharing.
Maria G.
(Learning about my Neuropathy)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-19 16:22:04 -0500 Report

Hi Learning,

I am sorry to hear that you are so unsupported. I think that you are right. Nobody can understand what you are going through unless they are walking in yoru shoes. But still, we would hope that people could be more caring. It sounds like you are doing a whole lot of giving but not getting much back in return.

Sometimes family members just go into denial, and hope that if they don't think about how badly you are feeling, it will all just go away.

Thanks for sharing this with us. I am glad that you are here!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-18 18:15:23 -0500 Report

I had nueropathy so bad it woke me up at night. It wasn't until I was diagnosed that I found out what it was. I talked to my doctor about it and he told me once I got my sugar levels under control, it should go away.

I bought over the counter lotion and that helped some. It wasn't until I bought a pair of well cushioned tennis shoes that gave me the best results during the day. Once my sugar levels were under control, it began to fade. I no longer have the problem unless my sugar levels rise. I have never had medication for it.

I learned a valuable lesson from my aunt who had several strokes a heart attack and open heart surgery. The week she got out of the hospital from a stroke she went to Canada for a week. My mom and her other sisters didn't think she should go including the sister that was going with her and said she should get more rest. Her response was, I will get plenty of rest in my coffin. Until then, I am going to live life and not worry about my blood pressure, my heart or the fact that I had a stroke. If I wake up in the morning I will thank God, get out of bed and even if every bone in my body aches, I will do what I want and have to do. When you do this by the end of the day you will have forgotten about the pain. She was right. No matter how bad my feet and legs hurt at night and in the morning, I still went to work, to meetings, shopping and by the end of the day, I had forgotten about the pain. The point is, stop worrying about the pain and concern yourself with living through the pain.

BabyFroggee 2012-10-17 12:48:46 -0500 Report

I know a little of what you feel (legs and feet) Maria. Sometimes I can't sleep at night. I just recently was given a prescription to help with the pain but it doesn't take it all away. Sometimes I can't even walk. I've been taking the medication for a month 1/2. I hope that you can get some help.