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How to Set Boundaries for Social Interactions in Our “New Normal”

Setting boundaries can help you feel less anxious and guilty about taking care of yourself, so let’s review principles of how to set boundaries in a healthy way.

Boundaries, the Holidays, and Re-Entry Anxiety

The holidays are approaching and many of us are feeling something uncomfortable: Post-pandemic re-entry stress and anxiety. Actually, the pandemic helped us realize that there are beautiful benefits of staying in place, and that it’s okay to say no to the things that don’t help us grow or bring us joy.

But now the “open for business” signs of our collective lives is pushing us back into events, parties, and family gatherings. 

And just like that, the idea of being 100% back into a sea of social situations, after so much time at home, has left many feeling like they’d rather stay put. Then when you add the upcoming holiday season to the mix with its additional stressors like gatherings, family dynamics, gifting, and health concerns… it begins to seem less than peaceful.

All of this could be why so many people are reporting an increase in post-pandemic anxiety and stress. The isolation, confinement, and awkwardness of shared physical space during the transition back to “normal” has been challenging for most of us.

Then there are the losses. Over the past three years, nearly everyone has experienced some kind of stressful loss… including the loss of jobs, loss of loved ones, loss of routines, and loss of financial standing. 

Even people who don’t consider themselves socially anxious may feel a bit uncomfortable jumping back into activities that were previously comfortable for them. This phenomenon is called re-entry anxiety.

What Is Re-Entry Anxiety?

So, let’s talk about re-entry anxiety. It tends to look like doubts and uneasiness about returning to school functions, office parties, family outings, and hugs and handshakes. 

Today I want to help you to feel confident navigating post-pandemic stressors by facing them and setting boundaries. In my book, Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health, I share that part of anxiety and stress recovery is being able to say no to someone or something else so that you can create the time and space you need for stress reduction.

Setting boundaries can help you feel less anxious and guilty about taking care of yourself.

Choose to allow what you want to be more important than what others want at this moment. You can choose it gently while also setting a boundary: This is your time, for you.

Stress Is Elevated Throughout Society Right Now

From toilet paper hoarding to social media overstimulation and massive fear, our overwhelmed brains and bodies need an extra measure of patience and kindness toward others and ourselves, so let’s review the anxiety and stress-counterbalancing principles of setting boundaries.

Before we begin, let’s look at a checklist of stress symptoms so you can better understand how stress is showing up in your body. This is how we start to figure out what to give your body so it can recover and be resilient to stress.

Stress Symptoms Checklist

Mentally check all that apply.

As you can see, your ability to respond and recover from stress in each moment, even with the stress of social re-entry, is critical to your mental and physical well-being.

I want you to get out there and enjoy life and the companionship of others. There are many health benefits to spending time with other humans. Community, connection, laughter, music, dancing, all of which increase oxytocin, which is an antistress hormone.

So we need to spend time together, but how to do it safely?

Setting Boundaries to Lower Your Overall Stress

The answer is this… by setting appropriate boundaries you can become resilient to the stresses of a post-pandemic world and feel a renewed sense of purpose in your life. Trying to resist and avoid these fundamentally human activities, doesn’t remove the stress. Instead, we end up with other issues, blockages, and restrictions of energy and processes.

Here’s what I suggest you do instead:

  1. Recognize that you are human, and you are loved and deserving
  2. Let go of identification with anything other than being human (this means a title, a role, a diagnosis)
  3. Allow yourself and your body to be in this moment and trust that your body knows what it needs to recover from stress
  4. Accept support from loved ones, yourself, and your environment
  5. Give your body the nutrients, food, water, rest, energy, and plants/herbs it needs – listen to the latest episode of my podcast on the importance of SelfC.A.R.E. and taking breaks (available everywhere in your favorite pod player)
  6. Start journaling. It can is a wonderful stress relieving practice when it is focused on gratitude, SelfC.A.R.E. steps, and emotional processing  

Communicate your thoughts, feelings, concerns, and needs. When under stress and when in stress-filled relationships, we tend to feel afraid to say what we are thinking and feeling. As you prioritize yourself, your feelings will become more clear to you, and you’ll then have the opportunity to communicate them to others in your life. It takes practice, so be gentle with yourself, and know that by communicating, you are both taking better care of yourself, and allowing others to listen and respond in a loving and supportive way to you. 

Assessing Your Stress Type

This is also the perfect time to do the stress quiz. This free online quiz is critical for you to know which stress recovery products and strategies are right for you. The quiz will measure five key areas of your health and well-being that are most affected by adrenaline and cortisol: Energy, sleep, focus, mood, and body. The outcome of the quiz determines your unique stress type and profile, which is how your body is affected by stress, so I can guide you how to recover.

TAKE THE FREE STRESS QUIZ TO FIND OUT YOUR STRESS TYPE:

The takeaway is that understanding and addressing your stress type will give you increased resilience and a calm and clear mind as you move ahead to reestablish those important connections in your life.  

You will also want to consider doing my SelfC.A.R.E. Reset. It is available online with instant access, so you can start any day that you’d like. In only 7 days (or less) you will start feeling better as you develop a consistent, daily selfcare practice.

The 7-Day Self C.A.R.E. Stress Reset teaches you how to prioritize your self-care. I use the acronym C.A.R.E. in the following way:

C = Clean Eating

A = Adequate Sleep

R = Recovery Activities

E = Exercise

These four Self C.A.R.E. activities can be easily integrated into your daily life as a caregiver to help you become resilient to stress. Sign up here:

I recently purchased Dr. Doni’s new book, Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health. I quickly implemented all her strategies to combat leaky gut and stress. Within DAYS of starting her protocol for the “stress magnet” type, I AM SEEING RESULTS! Better sleep, awareness of my cortisol levels, and a daily regimen that includes relaxing for a few minutes throughout the work day. The results are significant because I feel better about my healing process, after nearly a decade of battling the stress associated with having persistent HPV. I am eager to continue managing my digestion and stress and I am confident HPV will resolve with Dr. Doni’s C.A.R.E. regimen.

~ Anonymous Reader

How to Deal with Holiday Stress

  1. Gifting: Driving around like a crazy person and spending more than you should because of perceived expectations isn’t a gift for anyone. Instead, consider giving the gift of time and service – it’s much more meaningful.
  2. Health: Speaking of boundaries, remember that you can always say “no” when a situation makes you uncomfortable. And if you need to, keep wearing a mask, shop online, and connect with others through video calls.
  3. Financial: Mental health and money are intricately linked, so keep this in mind – our relationships with loved ones will not be damaged if we don’t exchange gifts. Don’t be afraid to get creative and limit gifts if you can’t afford to do as much as you might like. 
  4. Family: Surround yourself with family and close friends who mean the most to you and when if you notice that you get triggered when with family, create some space for yourself to process – take a walk, journal, call a friend, cry.
  5. Gatherings: You can say no to events with large crowds if you prefer, and yes to practicing soft social interactions by participating in (or creating) small group festivities. When you go to events, be sure to take precautions to be sure you have a timeline and safe exit.

It seems to be so much easier to take care of others than it is to set aside time and resources to take care of ourselves, but if we truly want to successfully reconnect personally and intimately with others, then we must move forward with confidence in ourselves.

That’s why I think joining a support group like the Stress Warrior Resiliency Group (on Facebook) is a wonderful why to educate yourself, get encouragement, and be inspired. 

Break the Post-Pandemic Cycle of Stress and Anxiety

As a final note: sometimes we become addicted to feeling stressed and get stuck in stress mode. Our bodies’ cortisol and adrenaline levels get imbalanced, and our nervous system operates in constant stress alert. To learn more about stress addiction see Episode 126 of my How Humans Heal podcast: Break Your Stress Addiction and you absolutely cannot miss my free anxiety masterclass: Transform Your Life. Take the masterclass so that you can learn about getting to the root causes of your anxiety and depression.

If you find that you still cannot break the post-pandemic cycle of stress and anxiety, I would love to talk to you. Schedule a 1:1 breakthrough session now, so that I can help you recover from stress and become more resilient. 

Wellness wishes, as always!

P.S. As we get ready for Thanksgiving next week, here’s something that can help you have a better, healthier meal. Download Dr. Doni’s Gluten-Free Holiday Dinner Guide – it’s free, and filled with holiday recipes and a convenient shopping list to make your dinner plans simple and healthy.


DISCLAIMER: This specific article and all other Content, Products, and Services of this Website are NOT intended as, and must not be understood or construed as, medical care or advice, naturopathic medical care or advice, the practice of medicine, or the practice of counseling care, nor can it be understood or construed as providing any form of medical diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.

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