Creating boundaries is not something easily done, but it is something that is necessary. Personally, I have struggled in the past with creating boundaries and it has done some very extreme things to my mental health. In fact, the most common “trigger” for my anxiety is feeling a lack of control over things and/or drawing a line (a boundary) only to have it crossed by someone.
As one can probably imagine, this happens a lot as a personal trainer because being one is… well, personal. I develop close relationships with my clients and sometimes, clients and even coworkers feel like they have full access to me, even when I am not physically in the gym.
On top of that, I am just a very private person. Some social interactions just exhaust me and I really hate small talk.
When we were living in Texas, one of the many things I learned in therapy was setting up boundaries. I took this knowledge and created a list of things I would do to lessen my anxiety and create a happier Kayla. I wanted to share that list with my readers!
Setting my phone to Do Not Disturb
I go to bed early and I also live on the east coast while most of my family and friends live on the west coast. Even when we lived in Arizona, I would still set my phone on DND because some of my clients would text me in the middle of the night! I’m not lying, I had a few clients that apparently thought it was okay to text me at 2 o’clock in the morning over and over again. Now that we are in Florida, some people still text me when it is maybe 7 pm their time, but it is 10 pm our time and we are trying to get to sleep before we wake up between 4 and 5 am. Therefore, my phone is set to automatically switch to DND mode from 8:30 pm to 4:30 am. This allows me time to clear my mind before I go to bed and not have to stay up late, dealing with work stuff or casually chatting with friends and family. It really helps me wind down and get sleepy!
The downside of having a smartphone and living in this continuously technologically evolving world is that there are millions of ways to contact someone. Because of this, sometimes if I am feeling extra overwhelmed, I delete certain apps that people use to contact me on. Sometimes I will redownload them when I am ready and sometimes they are permanently deleted. These apps have included: Messenger, Voxer, Kik, Skype, Twitter, Snapchat, and Email… just to name a few! This way, people can still send me messages and such to their heart’s content but I won’t receive them until I want to. This has benefitted me in other ways, too, like having cleared up space on my phone’s storage and my battery life lasting longer because of fewer notifications.
Sometimes I get the urge to delete full-on social media accounts, but that wouldn’t be good for business so I just opt to delete the apps and access the social media on my computer.
Leaving my phone upstairs
Since we live in a two-story house and I spend most of my time downstairs, I leave my phone upstairs a lot, especially when it needs to charge. This gives me time away from it so I can focus on other things like my certification studies and working on my writing. I tend to feel the need to acknowledge notifications within a few minutes of receiving them and by separating myself from my phone, I don’t get as antsy or feel guilty about “ignoring” someone.
Being firm about my work schedule
Back when I was training in Arizona, I was a huge pushover when it came to my schedule. It wasn’t a huge issue at first until people starting expecting me to do special favors for them like training on the weekends, super early in the morning, or late at night.
Now, when people ask me to train them on a Saturday or Sunday, before 6 am or after 8 pm, I honor the work schedule that I set for myself. I set my availability at work from 6 am to 8 pm and that is pushing it for me because I hate training in the evenings. Perhaps it is the military in me, but I prefer to go into work super early in the morning so I can leave in the afternoon before the evening rush.
Abiding by the hours I set for myself is a huge boundary of mine and now that I am really putting this one into practice, I don’t EVER plan on letting people take advantage of my kindness again.
Saying no is a boundary that I struggle to keep up. I am a “yes” person and I often feel guilty for saying no, even if whatever I am being asked is impossible. Even worse, I feel like I’m going to make people mad for saying no. However, it is even worse if I say yes to everything. By saying yes to everything, it shows others that I am a yes person and I’ve known some people who take advantage of that. Or because I said yes to something in the past, they think I will always say yes to whatever it is.
I also used to think that I need a good reason to say no to something and that I always need to explain myself. I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with saying no to things that I simply do not want to do because it would be more beneficial for my mental health if I did not do it.
A new boundary: I have two phone numbers
A very recent boundary that I set since I started doing my own sales is getting a second cell phone number. I downloaded an app that gave me another phone number local to south Florida and I use that to communicate with some clients and sales leads. I have certain notifications settings for that app so it doesn’t make my phone go crazy when I get texts or phone calls. This has proven helpful because I don’t worry about strangers having my personal cell phone number.
Like I said before, setting boundaries is not an easy task but it is needed for all of us. We need to be able to feel okay with stepping back from things to focus on recharging our batteries and taking care of ourselves. We should NEVER feel guilty for setting up our own boundaries. For me, as a personal trainer, I need to take care of myself so I can help other people with their goals. You cannot pour from an empty cup, friends!
I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.