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Setting Boundaries During COVID-19

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This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. It is no surprise that the pandemic has changed the way all of us live.

While public health guidelines about social distancing and wearing a mask are well-publicized, each of us has a different level of comfort about what is safe and what is not. For example, some people are comfortable boarding a plane whereas others are not okay with leaving the house.

Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss how to set boundaries and communicate them with those in our lives.  

Al: Thanks for joining me, Mihaela.

Mihaela: Thank you for having me.

Al: What exactly is a boundary?

Mihaela: Boundaries are the rules that we set for ourselves and our relationships. Most of us do this instinctively, and not everybody has the same ones. For instance, some people are happy to socialize outdoors with masks, while others are comfortable eating in restaurants, unmasked. The point is, what is okay with one person may not be okay with another, and that is alright as long as we communicate our position and respect each other’s boundaries.

Al: So essentially, boundaries are how people assert and protect themselves— when should we establish them?

Mihaela: If you are put in situations that could negatively impact you, then it may be helpful to put boundaries in place. This is especially true when your health or safety may be at risk, for instance, when someone is not respecting your desire to physically distance.

Al: It seems like all of us are navigating this pandemic at a different pace. So how does someone go about establishing boundaries?

Mihaela: First, to set your boundaries, you need to know what they are. Each of us has a different set of rules for what is acceptable and what is not. Wherever you are on this spectrum, you will have situations where you feel comfortable or not. Clearly communicating your position and expectations with others can help establish boundaries. 2

Al: So, consider a situation in which someone is engaging in activities which put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, whether on the job or in their personal lives. What is the respectful course of action in this situation?

Mihaela: It’s important that this person communicates that they are at greater risk, so those around them can decide what to do… That way, those who are concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 can make informed decisions about whether to limit their contact to virtual, until it is safe to meet in person again. Boundaries are about respecting one another’s situation.

Al: Any other tips for those who are not confrontational and want to avoid arising conflict?

Mihaela: Compassion can go a long way. When discussing your boundaries with someone, remember to ask others about theirs. It’s also important to show gratitude when they respect yours.

Al: That’s a great idea. Thank you for these tips! Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the listeners?

Mihaela: Remember, you always have the right to say no when you’re put in situations that make you uncomfortable. If you need more tips on how to communicate your boundaries, check out the article, Boundary Setting During a Pandemic at georgetownpsychology.com.

Al: Thank you again for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: Thank you for having me. Al: This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening.

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.