If you’ve identified your stress symptoms, where you are when feeling stressed, the people in your life you find challenging and stress producing, and the shared characteristics and the patterns among those individuals, the next questions are about boundaries as a form of self care.

    So what do boundaries have to do with self care?  Basically, learning boundary setting is the foundation of emotional self care.  So here are the questions to help that make sense.

    -How difficult is it for you to say no to someone –about anything? People in our lives ask for things all the time, and saying no when necessary is an essential boundary setting skill.  First, can you do it? And next, WHO is the most difficult person for you to say no to? Not saying no stresses us.  And the people you can’t say no to are SOURCES OF STRESS

    -How difficult or easy is it for you to ask for what you want and need? That means anything from a friendly voice to listen to a problem or concern, to a ride to pick your car up at the dealership, a $10 loan for a quick lunch, or just some time alone.  Some people never ask. Some ask too often. You are simply reflecting on you.  And one step further: who is the most difficult PERSON for you to ask for what you need?

    We all need help from time to time and when we fail to make requests, we isolate ourselves and then create the potential for resentment.  Not getting needed help is a major stressor. And the people we can’t ask are major SOURCES of stress.

    -And last, think about giving and receiving feedback. Is it difficult for you to give negative feedback when necessary? And WHO is the hardest person for you to give negative feedback to. Flipped over, is it difficult for you to RECEIVE negative feedback? And who is the hardest person to hear it from?…… and the opposite– is it difficult for you to give and receive POSITIVE feedback. And again, who is that challenging person for you when giving or receiving the feedback?

    We all need to deliver and receive negative feedback from time to time. AND the same with positive feedback.  When you identify what’s hard for you “to hear” and the individuals you struggle with listening to ….. well, you have your hands around more of the behaviors and the individuals creating stress.

    Saying no, asking for what we need, and giving and receiving negative and positive feedback are all forms of boundary setting.  A struggle in any or all of these ways of interacting puts you in a position of less self care than needed …. and creates more stress.

    Write as much as you can in your answers to these questions.  Then review the information you have generated so far — and in the previous blogs on stress analysis.  You’ve hopefully begun to isolate situations and people and behaviors you struggle with.  Examine what you already know you could do differently….things you know you can change. Then look at what you know you need help with.

    Additional blogs will give suggestions for change…. and if you need reading references for working toward reducing stress, I’ll include those as well.  And as always, when you encounter things that feel too difficult, please ask for the help you need.  And keep writing and reflecting.  Stress CAN BE MANAGED!

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