Reduce your stress by creating healthy boundaries.

Would you lie for a coworker? Would you miss your child’s soccer game if the boss asked you to stay late?  What would you do if a client yelled at you? Is it acceptable for people to curse around you? Would you do business with someone who is having an affair?

These are examples of questions to help you determine your own boundaries. Boundaries are healthy and necessary and without them your life will be more stressful. The problem comes in when boundaries are fluid. For example, perhaps you would lie for someone if the right person asked you to lie. If this is how you draw your boundaries, you are asking for trouble.

Make some decisions about what you truly value, then expand on that foundation. For instance, I value honesty. Lying makes me crazy. Just tell me the truth even when it’s hard. Therefore, that’s how I live my life. I don’t go around volunteering information, such as, “You look heavy in those jeans,” but I will say so if I am asked. My friends know it, my family knows it, and my coworkers know it. Therefore, they do not ask me to lie for them because they know I won’t, and they don’t ask questions unless they are prepared for what I may answer.

You don’t need to set up all your boundaries today, but think of something that you value and go from there. Make a list and keep up with it until you understand clearly what your boundaries are, and then stick to them.

Women are receiving more respect than ever and since the sexual harassment scandals have become so public, we are getting even better at holding the line at sexual boundaries. Some are obvious. It is not okay for your boss to ask you for sex in exchange for a promotion, but you have to decide on more subtle sexual issues. Is it okay if your boss rubs your back lightly as he/she is explaining something? Is it okay if an inappropriate joke is told around you? Is it okay if your colleague hugs you every morning? Is it okay if your love life is a topic at the office? Is it okay if someone jokes about a part of your body?

It’s not my place to judge what is acceptable for you, but it is important for you to judge what is all right and not all right with you. Tighten up your boundaries, and situations in public and at work will be much easier to handle and a lot less taxing.

(Excerpt from A Delightfully Short Stress Relief Guide for the Busiest Women by Dr. Susan Harrison, available in ebook or print formats.)