Setting Boundaries For Fatigue With Ashley Willoughby
Hey Beauties, welcome back for episode 9 of Cuppa&Chat!! This week is another blog swap. I teamed up with Ashley to share some top tips on how to set boundaries when it comes to fatigue. We both suffer awful with fatigue and we realised over the years that sometimes we don’t take enough time out for ourselves. So cuppa’s at the ready!!
Three Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Compassion Fatigue
I was getting ready to leave a social gathering last week. A friend of mine offered to walk out with me. We started chatting as we walked to the parking lot, but I quickly realized that the only reason she had offered to walk with me was that she needed to get something off her chest.
When I asked how she was doing, instead of giving a short and straightforward answer like she usually would, she launched into a whole conversation about an argument that she had with her boss at work. It became clear that this situation was weighing on her, and she needed to talk it out. We stood in the parking lot, discussing her work circumstances, and how she could respond for the next hour.
This situation would not have been a big deal on its own, but it was not good timing. Another friend called me to process a break-up earlier that day, and a co-worker had done the same thing the day before.
By the time I finally left that parking lot, I was on edge. My anxiety levels were rising, and every little thing started to bother me. I realized that I was having a hard time focusing on my own life because I had been so focused on other people’s problems.
Does this situation sound familiar to you? Many of us who struggle with mental health often choose to be there for other people because we know how it feels to not have anyone there for us. We listen to everyone because we do not want anyone to feel unwanted the way that we have when someone was too busy to listen to us.
It is all good and well to be there for other people, but you cannot let it get to the point where it begins to affect your own mental health. When you focus so much on other people that you become tense or unable to concentrate on your own wellness, you are suffering from compassion fatigue. In extreme cases, compassion fatigue can lead to substance abuse, secondary traumatic stress, and further mental illness.
The best way to avoid compassion fatigue is to set boundaries and communicate with your friends. I know that it is hard because you do not want to turn someone away when you know they need someone to talk to. But it is possible to set boundaries in a loving way, so they know that you still care. Here are three pieces of advice that can help you protect yourself against compassion fatigue.
Tip #1- Monitor Your Mental State
I think that mental health is a constant ebb-and-flow. There are some days when you can mentally handle anything, and there are other days when your mind is fighting you every step of the way. Most days are somewhere in between.
It is your job to monitor your own mental state and recognize the warning signs. Your friends are not inside your head, so they cannot tell when it is and is not a good time to ask you for advice or compassion. You cannot set healthy boundaries if you are not aware of what you need.
Learning how to monitor your own mental state is a process, and you will not master it overnight. When my friend talked to me in the parking lot, I was not aware that my mind was already overwhelmed by listening to my other two friends. I didn’t realize that I could not handle it until after I got home. But, I learned from that experience. After I took some time to decompress, I reflected on that situation and looked for warning signs that could help me avoid it in the future.
Make sure that you have a self-reflection tool in place, such as journaling or talking to a therapist, so that you can get better at monitoring your own mental state. Ask yourself why you feel things at certain times. Learn to recognize your own triggers. Practice makes perfect. When a situation arises when you know that you do not have the mental energy to handle it, then you need to be honest about it.
Tip #2- Be Honest About Your Own Well-being
Most people do not set out to bring someone else down. They are probably reaching out to you because they know that you care enough to listen. However, they care about you just as much. If you were to tell them that a conversation with them weighed you down, they would feel bad. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can let them know that it is not working for you without making them feel guilty.
My recommendation is to say something like, “I don’t have the mental energy to focus on this right now. Could we talk about it more over lunch tomorrow?” Another option is to be more specific. “I want to listen to you, but my anxiety is bringing me down right now. Can I call you a little later today to follow up?”
That way, they know that you care enough to listen and concentrate on what they are saying, but you have other things going on in your life that you need to focus your mental energy on. This is what I should have said to my friend that cornered me in the parking lot.
Just make sure that you follow up with them at a later time so that they know you really meant it. The chances are that by the time you reach out to check on them, they will have already resolved the matter on their own. Then, you get to hear about how they solved it and encourage them without taking on any of their stress.
Tip #3- Re-direct
I wish that we could always be that honest about our own mental health, but that is not always possible. If you tell your boss that you do not have the mental energy to listen to them, you could open yourself up to a series of consequences that would make your life so much more stressful. In those situations, I recommend that you find a way to re-direct them.
The best way to re-direct them is to give them something else to think about or an action they can take until you can catch up with them at a later time. For example, if your boss is complaining to you about something, ask them to email you a list of their recommendations for how they want the situation to be handled next time.
You can always claim that you want it in writing so that you can go back to it whenever the situation arises. That way, you can be respectful of your boss and listen to what they have to say, without sacrificing your mental health.
It is important to be there to support your friends and family, but you cannot do that well when it costs your own well-being. Monitoring your own mental health, being honest about it when you can, and re-directing people when it’s necessary are the best ways that I have found to set boundaries while still respecting your friends’ feelings.
What’s you opinion beauties?? Are you going to take on board Ashley’s advice?? I think it’s amazing!! Don’t forget to check out my post over on her blog!! See you next week!!
Much Love – Mrs Slee-Jones xx
Bio Ashley Willoughby is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about all of the things that people tell us not to talk about, like religion, politics, relationships, and mental health. Her motto is: “Life is complicated. Meet it head-on.”
Don’t forget to show Ashley some love on social media and her blog!!