4 Steps to Creating Healthy Boundaries

Creating boundaries is an important part of mental health and wellbeing. Healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for.

A boundary, by definition, is a limit or space that you define, that sits between yourself and:
1. Something – boundaries around things,
2. Something you do – physical boundaries,
3. Someone – sometimes referred to as a personal or relationship boundary.

Most often we set up boundaries to protect ourselves from things that don’t make us feel pleasant or can have some form of negative impact on us. Boundaries can range from being loose to rigid, with healthy boundaries often falling somewhere in between.

Four steps to creating healthy boundaries


Step 1. Define the actual limit or space you need.
For example, the need to limit how often you tune into the news or social media.
Step 2. Describe why it’s important to have the boundary.
In our example of limiting news and social media, the why might be because the news makes you
anxious or you find it a constant distraction that is affecting your work and relationships.
Step 3. Identify how you’ll put the boundary in place and regulate it.
In our news and social media example, it might be identifying times of the day and lengths of time you tune in.
Step 4. Set consequences either for yourself or for the relationship.
Relationship boundaries (in particular) are seldom effective unless there are consequences for the relationship for not respecting them. When setting consequences for relationship boundaries, it’s important to set consequences that you are willing to follow through on. If you are creating relationship boundaries, obviously these need to be communicated to the other party, so they know they exist.
Setting healthy boundaries is a crucial part of life and an important for self-care and personal well-being. Someone who’s not used to setting boundaries might feel guilty or selfish when they first start out, but setting boundaries is necessary for mental health and well-being. Appropriate boundaries can look very different depending on the setting, and it’s important to set them in all aspects of one’s life.

You can learn more about creating healthy boundaries and other useful information in our new series, The Science of Wellbeing

These steps and a wealth of other great information on creating healthy boundaries can be found on this website: www.positivepsychology.com

4 Steps to Creating Healthy Boundaries