Skip to content

Boundaries and Burnout: Setting Limits to Thrive

If there is one challenge we hear time and again from the women we work with it is that women, whether in the corporate world or elsewhere, often find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. The demands of work, coupled with societal expectations and internal pressures to excel, can lead to burnout and exhaustion. We know what it feels like. We’ve both been there! Which is why in this article we are delving into the importance of setting boundaries for women, whatever your role and stage of your career, and exploring strategies to prevent burnout and thrive in both professional and personal spheres. 

Why Boundaries matter

Setting boundaries is essential for maintaining mental, emotional, and physical well-being in the workplace and outside. Boundaries help define what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of workload, communication, and personal space. For women leaders, establishing clear boundaries is particularly crucial, as they often face additional pressures and expectations due to gender stereotypes and societal norms.

What makes boundaries feel challenging

Despite the importance of boundaries, many of us struggle to set and maintain them effectively. Common challenges include:
 

Guilt and Fear: Women may feel guilty or fearful of disappointing others or being perceived as selfish if they assert their boundaries.

Perceived Expectations: There may be a perception that women should always be available and accommodating, making it difficult to establish firm boundaries.

Work Culture: Some workplaces may have a culture that encourages overwork and disregards the need for work-life balance, making it challenging to set boundaries.

Career Advancement: Women may worry that setting boundaries will hinder their career advancement or opportunities for recognition.

If you recognise these you are not alone! Both us and many of our clients have experienced versions of all of these and lived with the resulting impacts in terms of exhaustion and burnout. When we step back and take a hard look at all of these though, we often realise that these are all manageable when we shift our perspectives. This is what we support our clients to do both within SOAR: Take Flight and Lead and in our work within organisations.

Supporting yourself with effective boundaries

To be able to create effective boundaries, you first need to know what boundaries you need/want. As with so many areas of life, awareness is the vital key step that allows us to create meaningful change. To understand how we want our boundaries to work, it can help to reflect on our values, our priorities and our personal limits in terms of available hours, acceptable behaviours etc. This enables us to have real clarity on what matters to us, who we are comfortable sharing our time and energy with and what boundaries are needed to protect our well-being and effectiveness.

To avoid burnout in particular, there is need for strong boundaries around the parts of life that prioritise us. Making self-care and getting your needs met a non-negotiable priority can be a key step to ensuring that we keep our energy levels sustainable which in turn allows us to show up authentically and powerful in all areas of our lives.

Boundary setting conversations are usually most effective when they come from our Queen PowerType – the part of us that is calm, authoritative and expects others to treat her with respect. When you know you need to have a conversation around boundaries, taking time first to tap into that Queen energy can be hugely empowering to ensure that your conversations are clear, calm, assertive and collaborative.

Finally, always remember that you deserve to have your boundaries respected. Indeed, having clearly defined boundaries, whether with colleagues, family, friends or others, is a key component in building trusting relationships that can lead to mutual thriving. 

We’d love to hear how you get one, or if you have any questions. Do reach out to us at hello@soarleadership.co.uk to let us know!