Why setting boundaries can save your life. | CFS Health
Defend Your Boundaries

As I collapsed it felt like I was about to die..

It wasn’t until the week after I collapsed that I found out I’d had a full blown panic attack.. yay fun!

That was after pushing myself to the fullest, stressed out to the max and having literally no boundaries for years on end.

Passion was good they told me. Use it as much as you can they said..

I had convinced myself that because I had passion, I was unstoppable. I could do anything I want, whenever I want. So I would work til 12-1 am. I would be doing skype sessions before breakfast and after dinner. I would be exercising and emailing at the same time. I would be hanging out with family and friends, yet I would be working in my head instead of being present in a conversation. I was on a fast train that couldn’t slow down. I know I had to slow down but I didn’t know how.

Here I was teaching people how to recover from illness and get energy, yet I was on the other end with almost too much raw energy that I didn’t want to sleep or sit still.

I sped fast, I ate fast, I spoke fast, I typed fast. Every I did was fast. So bad so that I almost lost my license for speeding. It was like I was running on quicksand. If I slowed down I was going to get bogged and sink.

As I say to my clients, it is only a problem when it becomes a problem.. For many years this fast lifestyle was not a problem, but after a few years it became a big one.

When you neglect you become at effect, meaning you feel like life is happening to you, not for you. 

That was when the stress went into overdrive and eventually led me to the collapse from a panic attack.

If you have every experienced panic or anxiety you know how dreadful it is..

If you relate to my story then you may be a little like me…

Rushing woman/man syndrome, constantly saying yes when deep down you want to say no, having 100 million to do lists in your head and feeling like you can never get them done, hanging out with people you really don’t want to hang out with. Overworking because you feel as though if you don’t achieve you are not good enough or worthy of success. Taking breaks is not an option. You have two lives. One online and one offline. You think the busier you are, the more successful you are. You are empty on the inside, yet it feels too scary to be on your own so you become busier so you don’t have a moment and deal with your internal feelings. These are just some of the reasons why we behave in a way that we just can’t slow down.

No wonder why as a collective the people are more stressed then ever.

Most of the above is either creating a stress response or coming from one.

If you don’t have boundaries and you are a YES kind of person we can most likely say two things about you. You don’t like to sit still and you don’t like being on your own sitting still.

For most of the time you are most likely tired but wired.

Meditation feels like another task that stresses you out, becoming a buddhist monk is definitely not on the cards for you..

The good news is you don’t have to change who you are.. you just have to change how you do things.

The key to this is boundaries.

Because not having them can be a disaster.

We all need some internal boundaries that can be our guiding compass in life.

Here are some tools that may help you.

The first 3 are boring but crucial. Don’t neglect the pillars of health first. Second we will set up some mental/emotional boundaries to help you.

1. Sleep is the most crucial life saver. You need to make sleep your priority. Think about all the late nights you have, the pushing through tiredness and burning the candle at both ends. You are most likely in sleep debt and you need to start paying the sleep bank back. Set a bed time. 10 pm works for me. Waking up at a similar time each more is also good. If your body is asking for an afternoon nap, take one – even a 20 min power nap can help. Tips for good sleep are blocking out all the dark. You can buy an eye mask which is useful in doing that. Get rid of all electronics at least 30 mins before bed. It really does help. Avoid moderate to high intensity exercise 4-5 hours before bed. No stimulants after 11 am. Example no coffee. No coffee at all would be better. Try black tea as a substitute. Avoid over eating at dinner. Nothing worse then trying to sleep on a full stomach. If you like eating a big dinner, have it 4 hours before bed, not 1.

2. Nutrition – Eating food is really important. How you eat it and what you eat is important too. You know the deal. Just eat whole healthy foods. If it comes in a package it probably isn’t great for you. Don’t complicate it. Eat what is right for you. Find out what you like by trialling different healthy foods and eat it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sit down and eat it. No phone, no working, just be present and eat mindfully. Consciously chew slower and appreciate what you have got in front of you. Water is part of nutrition. If you are dehydrated you are going to be tired. Drink water through out the entire day. Especially in the morning when you wake.

3. Movement. It doesn’t have to be daily, however 3-4 times a week can be a good start, and it doesn’t have to be much. Depending on your energy  levels and health, choose movement that is specific to you. If you are unsure about this find a qualified health coach who can give you what you need. One thing to avoid when you are already stressed out to the max is pushing yourself hard. Don’t add more stress to an already stressed out body. It needs love, it needs energy, not neglect and exert. Restorative breathing, restorative movement, walks, biking, yoga (stretches), strength training. Stay in a calm state as you do these activities. If it’s too much, back it off. I usually say to my clients – start with 50% LESS then you think you should do. Getting into the psychology as to why your exercising too. If you are doing it for the wrong reasons, you may treat it like a mind over body game which can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing.

Okay now we can get into the fun stuff.

  1. Say NO more often. Yes you, learn to say no.
  2. Get a structure and routine and stick to it!
  3. Only say YES if it is a HELL YES. Prioritise what is important to you and stick to it.
  4. Schedule in your “own time”
  5. Force yourself to take 5-10 min breaks every hour if you are a high achiever or over worker who can’t switch off.
  6. Be MINDFUL. I don’t mean become a hippy. I mean become mindful when you are doing things. Remember you can still work hard at what you want to do, but work SMART. If you are entering whatever you are doing in a rushed stress state, being mindful of that and then changing your approach can make a HUGE difference.
  7. Create breathing space.
  8. Reflect. Stop and reflect to see where you are at and what you need in that moment.
  9. Observe your behaviour patterns. Why are you doing what you are doing? Is it serving you?
  10. Get perspective. Sometimes our perceived problems are no longer a problem when a true crisis hits.
  11. Buy some perspective. Whether it is with a coach or a therapist. Talking to someone so you can open up and stop internalising everything is healthy. Gaining perspective from an outsiders view will give you new insights to yourself that you didn’t even know about.
  12. Stop trying so damn hard. That is all you do and sometimes it’s okay not to try. Be okay with it.

In ending this summary I am going to leave you with this quote which puts life into perspective and know that just like the seasons change from summer to winter so can you.

Planting and fertilising your seeds (from a client) 

You have planted and tended your fields diligently. And like every good farmer will tell you, if you keep ploughing at the right times, fertilising, planting seeds, and keep up the appropriate nourishment, you will reap a great harvest. Most seeds are good and they flourish, but some never take and just whither … the farmer watches his crop closely giving it every chance to thrive. He knows nature will do the rest. Sunshine, rain and wind all contribute to a crops strength and its yield. Life and it’s many varied elements are all part of growing from a seed into a fully fledged golden harvest. That is the way of things … how else would a shaft of wheat learn to stand tall, proud and strong, against so many odds?

With love,

Toby Morrison

Toby Morrison
Toby Morrison
At age 16 Toby was diagnosed with CFS. According to Dr Lionel Lubitz (head doctor at the Royal Childrens Hospital), Toby’s case of CFS was “the worst he’d ever seen”. Initially spending 4 weeks at the inpatient hospital program, Toby’s journey back to health was long and difficult, but he found a way and now dedicates his life to helping others achieve the same. Toby is the founder of the CFS Health Centre in Melbourne and has released a book on CFS