Setting Boundaries around Electronic Communication and Social Media

“Setting boundaries” is a phrase that gets talked about often-but what does it actually mean to set healthy boundaries? Boundaries are limits we put in place for ourselves with other people, our time, our emotions, and other areas. In today’s society, boundaries often get blurred and easily stretched when there are so many ways people can contact you at any time of day, such as through email, texting, and social media.

Setting boundaries, including those of electronic means, can positively impact many areas of your life, including relationships, emotional and mental health, and even physical health. Below are some areas to consider whether some boundaries may need to be set for you.

Email

If you have a job where a lot of communication takes place through emails, you probably spend a lot of time out of your day sending and responding to messages. Here are a few tips to help set some boundaries around your email use:

-If possible, don’t check your email after the end of the workday.

-If you have your work email on your phone, think about taking that account off your phone so you are less tempted to check your messages when not at work. It could also be helpful to take the email off your phone temporarily on your days off/vacation.

-Don’t feel pressure to respond immediately to emails if you are busy or it is outside of work hours, if the email is not an emergency. If you do not feel like you are in the right frame of mind to craft an effective email, take some time before responding. Emails are not meant to be immediate ways of reaching people, and it is unrealistic to expect others to be checking their email and responding immediately at all times of the day.

Texting

With texting, it is easier than ever for people to contact you at any time of the day, and there is often this feeling like we need to answer immediately, no matter what we are doing. But if it is not an emergency, it is alright to not answer immediately.

On the other side of this, if you are the one sending a text that is not being answered, allow the other person some space/time to respond. Before taking it personally that that person is not answering, think about what they may be doing that is keeping them from responding (work, sleep, self-care time, etc.) and honor that. Wait a little while before following up.