How to Set Clear and Healthy Boundaries

Setting Clear And Healthy Boundaries

Episode Description

In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.

What to Expect

  • The definition of boundaries.
  • Why boundaries are important for relationships and health.
  • How to say "no."

Resources: Learn More

Things to Think About

  • Does your body language match your words?
  • The next time you say "no," can you give a reason?
  • How has taking on too many things affected your mental and physical health?

About the Hosts


April Morris, LCSW, provides outpatient therapy for adolescents and adults age 16 and over. She uses a multi-faceted trauma-informed therapy approach including a variety of therapy techniques. She enjoys working with clients from all walks of life, and is honored to join them on their mental health journey and help them build skills to adapt to life challenges.

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How to Set Clear and Healthy Boundaries

Tips for setting boundaries infographic

Featuring April Morris, LCSW, Dakota Family Services


Host Tim Unsinn (00:00):

Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode, as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to mind your mind.

TU (00:31):

Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is April Morris. April is an outpatient therapist in Fargo and provides therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. April, great to have you on Mind Your Mind. Our topic is boundaries. However, before we get to the topic, there's a question I ask all of our guests on Mind Your Mind, and that is why do you do what you do?

April Morris (00:55):

I think it's always been great to be supportive of everybody through their journey, and being part of that is really a humbling experience. And so anything that I can do to support others in this world, I feel like has been my calling.

TU (01:11):

Our topic is boundaries. And for that topic, I'm just simply going to ask you, because I've got to, I think I know what boundaries are, but I know you're going to correct me and tell me how it is. So what are boundaries?

AM (01:23):

Sure. So it's basically the limits and rules we set for ourselves in relationships. Most of the time, they're based on our values, and being able to say no, kind of lets others know where we're at with those values and expectations in our relationships. Ultimately, having boundaries is helpful in the sense that it does help us move towards intimacy and closer relationships when we give people some parameters, as well.

TU (01:47):

All right, set those boundaries. As long as it's clear and laid out, we should all be good.

AM (01:52):

That's right.

New Speaker (01:53):

So how do we say no?

AM (01:55):

Oh, right. So there's a lot out there as far as what some different strategies are to say, "no." I like to remind people that 75% of what we are saying is non-verbal, even up to 90%; it depends on where the statistics that you're gathering, but minimum 75%, which is pretty huge. So I think people forget that we might already be saying no without our words. So it can be really confusing to people then if we say, "Oh, I'll think about it." Or, "Let me get back to you," rather than just giving them an upfront answer that maybe that's something that we're too tied up to be able to do or something we don't want to do. So some of those tips are going to be just kind of having confident body language, eye contact, our tone of voice, being respectful, of course. You know, we don't need to yell or put people down when we say no; that's not really what it's about.

AM (02:47):

Planning ahead. You know, it can increase our confidence in a difficult situation if we can plan ahead a little bit as far as what we want to say. So they kind of say to think about you know, "I can't commit to that because..." And then give a reason. There's actually a statistic that says 34% of people are more understanding if they're given a reason. It can really kind of help clarify where you're at. So whether it's, you know, "I'm sorry, I can't, I've taken on too many projects this month. Let me see if I can connect you to somebody else." Right. So if you still want to be helpful, you can still do that and still say no. Couple other things I was thinking of that might be helpful to mention is just sometimes we can compromise. When it doesn't conflict with our values, we should listen and hear out the other person. In healthy relationships, there's compromise. It's really about you knowing what your values and boundaries are to begin with in a relationship, and then being able to express them to other people.

TU (03:49):

So what I'm hearing, two of those things that just jump out at me, are the ones that make sure you're verbalizing, don't expect the other person to read your body language and understand what you're saying. It's best to be open, honest, transparent at the front end, as opposed to leading to anxiety later on; that's a big one. And then the other one is to be thinking about, well, that person may be going to ask me something. I should, if I don't feel comfortable, have an honest reason for not doing that and being transparent in that as well. So transparency is huge in both those opportunities.

AM (04:23):

Absolutely. Cause I think even in this latter example, it's, you know, if it's something you're just not interested in, or you don't feel like it's in your wheelhouse, your comfort zone, you can just say that. You know, "That's not really an interest of mine, but hey, you know what I think maybe Susie would be someone to help you out." Like if it's a work situation or do you have any other friends that might be interested in, you know, helping you plant your garden or that would really enjoy that and just kind of encouraging them to connect different people to those different things.

TU (04:52):

Sure. Open, honest, transparent. That leads to things that aren't going to exasperate anxiety and depression. Correct?

AM (05:00):

Right. So when I was thinking about, how does this impact our anxiety and depression? Well, ultimately stress. So, you know, we take on too much. If you never say "no," your plate's too full. That leads to high anxiety and stress about how you're going to manage all those projects and get those done. How, if you can't, do you have to backtrack now and say, sorry, I couldn't get your thing, you know, done? So it can really be best to manage stress and keeping your plate to a manageable amount. Even prior to anxiety and depression, you know, resentment, anger, in addition to stress those things are all kind of precursors for anxiety and depression, too. We need to manage those things to have the best quality of life we can and try to not exacerbate or create anxiety and depression in our life.

TU (05:49):

I think we have to be thoughtful for ourselves as well because our health is important. If we're always saying yes to everything, eventually when our health is so deteriorated, we're not going to be able to help anyone, not even ourselves.

AM (06:03):

Yes, burnout is real and it impacts actually physically, right. It can impact our heart, our digestive system, our immune system, our sleep. For women, your reproductive system. I mean, stress, anxiety, depression impacts your physical health. Absolutely.

TU (06:18):

I would think your workplace as well, because if you're going to work stressed, thinking about all day long, what you, because your boundaries weren't working at the front end when somebody asked you to help them and you didn't say no right away, you're stressing all day about that thing you don't want to do after work. Your employer is not getting the best you, you're not giving your best you, so, really, boundaries are huge.

AM (06:40):

Absolutely. It decreases your productivity, production, focus, all of that at work.

TU (06:46):

Any other thoughts on boundaries on ways that we can say no with, for me, it's how do you say no, without hurting someone's feelings?

AM (06:55):

This did just kind of come up. I think that there's general fears, right? Like saying no isn't being rude. You know, you're rejecting the request, not the person, is something I try to remind people, right? You're not, it's not missing out an opportunity. You can't take on every possible opportunity. It's not going to ruin the relationship if you do it in a kind, considerate, straightforward way. So a lot of it's just managing those fears, you know, how do you do that without feeling guilty?

TU (07:24):

Explain why you can't help. And I wouldn't say if you, if you say yes, nine times that 10th time, they're not going to be mad at you for saying no.

AM (07:32):

Just like they have the right to ask for a favor, you have the right to say, no. You don't think it's weird that they would ask, it shouldn't be weird to say no.

TU (07:38):

Great topic. Glad that we you brought this up boundaries. As we wrap up this episode of Mind Your Mind, any other thoughts on boundaries before I ask you that last question?

AM (07:47):


TU (07:48):

Okay. So the last question I always have for our guests, and that is, what do you do personally, to mind your mind?

AM (07:56):

I like to spend time outside. So as summer approaches, I spend weekends at the lake. I just feel much more relaxed when I can be in the moment, in nature with the sun, the sounds, just all of it. When I can't and it's winter, I might take a hot bath or listen to loud music in my car. But everybody's coping skill lists can look different. You just got to know what's what's on it.

TU (08:19):

Or loud music in the tub! That always works too.

TU (08:21):

Well April, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate you as always, your time, your talent, and sharing that with us. Again, the topic was boundaries. Feel free to listen again. Pause, listen again, pause, and feel free to share this with others as well.

TU (08:36):

Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to

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