‘I don’t have time,’ is fast becoming the answer to everything in my life. Work, parenting, socialising and if I’m totally honest, time spent scrolling through social media, means I rarely have time for the things I know are important to my own self care, my sanity, my relationship, even my health. Sound familiar?
That’s why Boundaries: How to Draw the Line in Your Head, Heart and Home £12.99, a book by journalist Victoria Lambert and psychotherapist Jennie Miller, stood out a mile from the various new self help guides new to the market this month. I spoke to Victoria to learn more about her 4-step programme.
What are the main issues in modern life you sought to tackle with BOUNDARIES?
Everyone I know is “firefighting” all the time thanks to the competing demands of modern life. It’s the daily struggle to fit in work, exercise, a healthy diet, your relationship, caring for family (both old and young), let alone finding space to relax.
And then, on top of all that, we have the internet hoovering up our time with its addictive appeal, luring us on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emails, games and films. No wonder it feels there aren’t enough hours in the day anymore. There genuinely aren’t.
So my co-author psychotherapist Jennie Miller and I wanted to help others set boundaries – their own set of personal guidelines in effect – which could manage these competing demands.
What are the most important boundaries to set first?
The most important boundaries are personal – we call them self-boundaries.
Once you start to take care of yourself, you’ll have more confidence to set boundaries around interactions and relationships with others.
This means you won’t get buffeted along by responding to what other people want. It’s an end to people pleasing and a start to pleasing you. One that doesn’t equal being selfish.
The first self-boundary to set is around sleep. Just as you would with a child, set a time to go to bed and to get up. Once you get into a routine, you’ll notice your quality of sleep improving which will give you the energy to look at other areas of life. Next, establish attainable, consistent self-boundaries around exercise and eating. Then look at your unhealthy habits – that weekend cigarette or six o’clock glass of Sauvignon Blanc – and lastly, make a plan to control how much and how often you go online (whether that’s on your phone or PC).
We’re not asking for you to behave in a ‘perfect’ way but to establish a genuine healthy lifestyle that works for you and then to stick to it. The best boundaries often emerge when you admit to yourself what really makes you – not everyone else – happy.
In your own life, what are the boundaries that really keep you sane?
I don’t go out mid-week at night. I used to go out to meetings, parties, for work events and exercise classes. But I hated the juggle of school run, babysitters, late trains and guilt. Now I manage my days better so work, fitness and socialising can be done during the day or at weekends. I go to bed at 10pm. I’m an 8-hour girl and I like to get up early.
I don’t try to burn the candle at both ends.
My holiday week alone. Every year I go away by myself for a week to recharge usually to join a group doing something creative. I don’t feel guilty and I don’t call home. Switching off from everyone I know and love once a year gives me much better energy for the other 51 weeks.
What kind of exercises are included?
The book contains visualisations to put you into a positive frame of mind and help you sleep. It also contains exercises to audit your own behaviour at home and work so you can change your behaviour once you are conscious of your behavioural patterns. One popular exercise is the Facebook Cull. This is designed to help you work out your friends from your acquaintances.
Why is it important to set yourself boundaries – what are the potential benefits, both immediate and long-term?
The benefits of boundaries aren’t just practical. Building healthy boundaries of your choosing will help you gain confidence and develop self-esteem. You’ll help to understand your own behaviour and that of others much more. Relationships are more honest and healthy with boundaries in place. Best of all you will truly be in control of your own life perhaps for the first time ever.
Victoria’s Top tips
- Set self-boundaries before tackling boundaries with others.
- Understand and own your role in creating life’s dramas.
- A healthy self-boundary does not disrespect others.
- Don’t look elsewhere for something missing in you.
- Don’t be too quick to take the blame or paint yourself as a villain. You can be the hero of your own story.
Boundaries – How to Draw the Line in Your Head, Heart and Home is published by HarperCollins, £12.99 BUY NOW
And later this month you can win a copy of the book,