We are in unprecedented times as humans and as Americans. Many of the things we are facing today can be polarizing, as we all have our own opinions and beliefs. Lately it seems that when the news is on, nothing good is happening. Social media can be an escape or fan the flames of a myriad of emotions, depending on what you click on. Yet, we persist. As military spouses and families we learn resiliency, but there are times when even the most resilient of us may say “Enough!” and need to set boundaries around who and what we are willing to let into our lives.
Boundaries are a form of self-care. In the simplest terms, it is making yourself and your well-being a priority. Boundaries are the limits that we usually set regarding how we engage with others and how they treat us but can also be extended to include everything from topics of conversation to social media use.
As an example, during an in-class conversation in my graduate program, someone was speaking poorly of the military and I purposely did not engage. My past interactions with this person taught me that there is no such thing as a discussion with them. They are not interested in listening to another viewpoint and I saw that my anger was the reaction they wanted. It was exhausting. I set a boundary a while back to not engage with this person. As difficult as it was to sit there and not say anything, I knew that I personally would be better off.
Setting boundaries around what you take in from the news and social media is simple: Turn off the television or change the station. Curate your social media feed by unfollowing accounts or people that you find triggering or draining.
But setting boundaries with people can be more complex. This can range from simply choosing not to engage, as I did in the example above, to actually saying to someone, “I prefer not to talk about ______________.” If people ask you why, you can simply tell them something along the lines of, “Talking about politics is very stressful for me right now and I am taking a break from discussing it.” Hopefully, people will respect your wishes. If not, you may have to be a bit firmer.
When you set boundaries, it can help to alleviate stress, give you a sense of control and empowerment over your own care and well-being, and can help to enhance relationships as we hopefully show mutual respect for each other. This in turn, helps us to be better partners, parents and humans.