Wellbeing and Mental Health Matters: a thought about boundaries

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In our regular spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few thoughts on boundaries, and how they can help.

Hello, and welcome to wellbeing and mental health matters. We hope this week finds you well and dandy, but if not, that’s ok too. Grab a brew, a biscuit and have a chill.

This week, we’re thinking about boundaries.  When talking boundaries, the Cambridge Dictionary defines them as follows:

  1. A real or imagined line that marks the limit of something;
  2. The limit of what someone considers to be acceptable behaviour

Every one of us has unique boundaries. Our limits will be different to the people around us. I suspect that we rarely think about them as a concept; rather they are ingrained in our behaviour and reactions. What is acceptable to me will not be acceptable to my neighbour, and so forth. We have them everywhere: our personal lives, our work lives, in our hobbies and friendships.

I was pulled up short in conversation this week when arranging a counselling session, talking about my actions in a difficult situation. It was pointed out to me I had taken affirmative action by setting strict boundaries on a toxic situation. I was stumped, I’ll be honest, because I’d never really considered it from that viewpoint. Rather, I’d reached my limit of tolerance and had withdrawn as completely as I could from a bad situation.

Which takes us to definition 2. Got to be honest, until that moment on the phone, I’d been getting antsy with myself for being hard on someone. Having a reality check with a third person who wasn’t emotionally engaged in the situation helped me step back and think, actually, this is a necessary line that I have to draw for my own protection.

How often do we do this, whether consciously or unconsciously? How many subtle moral or emotional judgements do we make? Are all of them correct? I think of myself as having a pretty high tolerance level, to a point. At what stage do you have to say that your own welfare takes priority over the desires and demands of other people?

I can’t answer this question for any of you, just as you can’t answer it for me. Have I made the right decision, drawing that immovable line? Yes. Does it still hurt? Also, yes. There’s an emotional cost to consciously imposing barriers in our lives.

There are no rights or wrong to the barriers we have to erect in our lives. They can be as simple as no smoking in your house, to having to block someone from your life who is causing you harm. On occasion we might need to step back and examine the constructs we have imposed on ourselves, see if the line has shifted and if so, what the consequences are.

I do know that it’s exhausting, maintaining these barricades. They may crack, buckle under the weight of my own guilt and tiredness. Nothing is ever black and white, on either side of the line. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point it out.

If you are facing your own lines being pushed beyond their limits, if you are struggling to maintain healthy relationships, do consider reaching out for help (contacts at the bottom of the article). Or have a natter with us below the line.

Give yourself some slack, and take care of yourself.


Useful Links:


In an emergency, life threatening situation only, call 999 immediately. 24hrs a day every day.


For urgent but none emergency medical attention call 111 (or 0845 46 47 in certain areas of Wales.) 24hrs a day every day.


For your local crisis team contact 111 at any time of day and ask for their details. Crisis teams are available to offer support in times of a mental health crisis. This number works in England, Wales (also call 0845 46 47) and Scotland.


S.O.S – Silence Of Suicide

Phone lines are open 9am until midnight 7 days a week (including every day over Christmas and New Year) Volunteers are waiting to listen to your worries so please don’t suffer in silence. If you are over 18 then call;

0300 1020 505




Young suicide prevention society for under 35’s

Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 – (Mon to Fri, 10am to 5pm & 7 to 10pm. Weekends and bank holidays, 2pm to 5pm)

Website: www.papyrus-uk.org

Child Line for any issues at all for under 16s

0800 1111



Phone UK and ROI 24hrs a day, 365 days a year

116 123

Text 07725 909090

Email jo@samaritans.org

Welsh language line 7pm to 11pm 7 days a week



No Panic

10am to 10pm then pre recorded crisis help after this time

0844 9674848 5p per min

Youth 13 – 20

0300 7729844


Mind Mental Health charity info line

0300 123 3393 Mon – Fri 9am to 6pm (closed 25th 26th Dec and 1st Jan and all bank holidays)

Text 86463


Re-Think Mental Health

0300 5000 927 10am to 2pm Mon – Fri

Email info@rethink.org


The Mix 13 to 25 year olds

0808 808 4994

Their crisis messenger text service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, and are experiencing any painful emotion or are in crisis, you can text MIX to 85258.


Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5.30pm)

Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk


CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Men’s Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk


Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.

Phone: 0808 808 1111 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)

Website: www.mencap.org.uk

Beat – for people battling eating disorders.

Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) 12pm – 8pm Mon to Fri and Weekends 4pm – 8pm or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)

Website: www.b-eat.co.uk

Cruse Bereavement Care

Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)

Website: www.cruse.org.uk


Advice on dealing with domestic violence.

Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)

Website: www.refuge.org.uk


Helping men escape domestic abuse.

Phone: 01823 334244



For people affected by or at risk of sexual abuse or rape.

Phone: 01926 402 498


Switchboard LGBT+ helpline

Advice and understanding for LGBTQ+

Phone: 0300 330 0630


Email: chris@switchboard.lgbt

Financial difficulties and debt:

The websites below offer information on where to get benefits advice and financial support.








If there are any useful resources we’ve missed, please put them in the comments. Take care all x

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