Growing up, most of us were taught to work hard and respect others. ‘Tiger’ parenting and ‘kiasu’ culture pushed some of us into the direction of high-ranking universities and reputable companies, with no regard for our mental health. As millennials, the relentless pressure to succeed continued in adulthood with the rise of hustle culture on social media (being busy is now considered ‘glamorous’).
We’ve spent almost our entire lives listening to others, and comparing ourselves to others, when we should actually be prioritising ourselves. Boundaries can help us do this – they protect our health and wellbeing, and provide us with a sense of self. It’s not going to be easy, and you will feel guilty at first, but here’s why we must allocate time and space for ourselves:
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are the rules we create to protect our needs. They can be applied within our relationships, career, and even online to communicate our limits and ensure our safety.
Why do we need boundaries?
- To develop our identity and a sense of agency over our bodies and feelings.
- To be able to practice self-care and improve our self-esteem.
- To communicate our needs in a relationship and have positive interactions.
- To avoid burning out and protect our finances.
How can we set boundaries?
- Identify your limits
What makes you feel uncomfortable? Check in with your body as well – what makes you tense up?
- Be assertive
When it comes to communicating your limits, be direct, but avoid being aggressive. Use ‘I’ statements, such as, “I feel overwhelmed when the house is a mess because I already spend so much time cleaning it. What I need is help to keep it clean”. This allows you to express your feelings without blaming anyone.
- Give yourself permission to say no
It can be hard to say “no”, especially in Malaysia where there is a face-saving culture. Let go of the fear of looking selfish or coming off as rude – you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
- Develop a support system
Boundaries take determination. If you’re having a hard time with them, turn to your family and friends for support – you can practice asserting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.
When we’re able to define our boundaries, we’re able to have more respect for ourselves. Boundaries can protect us from physical and emotional intrusion, and empower us to make healthy choices and take responsibility for ourselves. Setting boundaries is a process, but don’t let fear and guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself!
Cancer is a complicated disease – according to WebMD, there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that may be able to cure some people. It doesn’t help that there’s still a stigma surrounding it either with cancer being stereotyped as a life-threatening disease.
When someone we love is diagnosed with breast cancer, we may find ourselves cycling through anticipatory grief – the mourning that occurs when expecting a death. You know you have to be strong for them, but this can be difficult when you feel like you’re falling apart at the seams. We asked The Mind Faculty how to deal with these feelings without making it harder for your loved one:
- Reach out to your support network
Talk to your other family members, friends or even a counsellor. This is a scary, challenging and devastating situation, so you’re not being weak for needing extra help.
- Practice self-care
You can only be there for your loved one as much as you are there for yourself. Make sure you’re eating healthy and moving your body – even if it’s stretching for 5 minutes a day, and allow yourself a break by going out with friends or someone who is removed from the situation.
- Honor your feelings
You may be tempted to think, “I can’t be be sad, I have to be strong for my loved one”, but by minimizing the way you feel – you won’t allow yourself to grieve or process it properly. Try venting to a friend, keeping a journal or even screaming into a pillow. Your pain is valid.
It’s important to be patient with yourself as grief follows its own timeline. When it comes to caring for them while managing you own stress and anxiety, The Mind Faculty suggests:
- Create positive memories with your loved one
If it’s not possible, you can still reminisce about your favorite times together – try making them a scrapbook.
- Hold space for them
Listen without trying to ‘solve’ what they are going through. For example, if they tell you that they are scared – don’t say, “There’s nothing to be afraid about! Modern medicine is amazing”. Instead, try saying, “I can only imagine how scary it must be for you”.
- Educate yourself
Do your research on breast cancer and their treatments, but don’t overwhelm them with information. To avoid this from happening, allow them to ask you first.
- Watch how you speak about cancer
We usually use ‘war metaphors’ when speaking about cancer. For example – “we must fight it”, “she is a cancer survivor”. This suggests that people who have died from cancer didn’t fight hard enough and can make those who suffer from it feel guilty or inadequate if their treatment isn’t working.
While you can prioritize your loved one, please make sure to take care of your mental health as well. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Follow The Mind Faculty on Instagram for more professional advice and mental health support.
Can you believe it’s almost been a year since the COVID-19 outbreak? As much as we want it to end by 2021, The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows that there is an increasing rate of infections coming from countries who were thought to be controlling their outbreaks.
We’ve experienced lockdowns, travel restrictions, strict guidelines, and just when we were getting used to the new normal – we now find ourselves preparing for another wave. If you’ve started to feel stressed and anxious again from all the fear and uncertainty, here’s how you can cope with those difficult thoughts:
- Acknowledge what you’re feeling
The World Health Organization puts it best – when we are unaware of our thoughts and feelings, we get hooked on them. Start noticing what you’re thinking and how it makes you feel. By understanding your feelings, you’ll be able to avoid getting consumed by your thoughts.
- Practice grounding yourself
When you start to feel overwhelmed and distracted, you need to slow down and refocus your attention to the present. Start by focusing on your breathing and then move on to your surroundings. When you worry about the future, your thoughts begin to race so you need to remind yourself that you are in the present.
- Educate yourself
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has advised that we get to know the facts about the coronavirus to help reduce the stress from fake news and rumours. Discuss your concerns with a doctor and prepare yourself by finding out where and how to seek treatment.
- Take care of your body
Stress can also affect your physical health, so it is important to eat healthy food, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Although there are no foods or dietary supplements that can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, these are healthy ways to strengthen your immune system.
- Connect with others
If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, share how you’re feeling with someone you trust or talk to a mental health professional. You can socialise with your family and friends to help distract your mind from stressful thoughts.
Remember, it is normal to feel anxious and you don’t always have to be positive – your emotions are valid. Make sure you’re aware of what you’re feeling, and find reassurance in knowing that there are plenty of resources and welcoming arms to help you.
Let’s take care of ourselves and each other during these trying times!