How to set healthy boundaries

The relationships we build in our lives affect the way we feel towards ourselves, the way we see the world, and the way we deal with our emotions. Having strong, healthy relationships is the key to improve our lives, and to understand who we really are. In order to make relationships work, we have to set boundaries, no matter if we’re considering the relationship we have with our lover or the one we have with a toxic person. Boundaries are what makes it possible for you to get the best out of every relationship, to feel respected, loved and wanted, and to spend time doing what you love. Boundaries are our borders, they help us define who we are and what we want. The question is: how do we set healthy ones? How can we manage to stay away from a loved one for a bit, or not to get a call from our mother during a meeting?

I’ve found ten key steps to take in order to set healthy boundaries in our lives and improve the quality of our relationships. Keep reading to find the out:

  • Ask yourself what you want from every relationship you have in your life. Is it love you want? A deep friendship? Help with your work? Someone you can share ideas with? Every answer is fine, be honest with yourself.
  • Ask yourself why you want it. Do you feel alone, and therefore are looking for a partner? Consider working on yourself before getting out there and possibly hurt someone’s feelings. Is it more space you want from your parents, because you feel suffocated? What exactly would you want to change?
  • Focus on how to get what you want. If it’s love or friendship you want, be clear about your intentions. People are going to appreciate it, and nobody will get hurt. If it’s help with your work you want, don’t pretend to be looking for a friendship. Arrange meetings and appointments to get to know each other, but don’t make them look like you’re having dinner together with any other interest than work.
  • Try to understand what other people are looking for. I know you’ve heard you should always put yourself first: nothing more right than that, but remember that there are two people in every relationship, you can’t expect it to work if you don’t find a good compromise with people and try to understand their needs.
  • Give yourself permission to refuse something. If you don’t feel comfortable with what someone else wants, say it. You have the right to define your relationships, and decide how much to get involved.
  • Analyze people’s behaviour and avoid what you consider toxic for your energy. A good example is a toxic relationship with your parents. If you feel like shit every time you see them, then maybe it’s time for you to show up less at their house and focus on something that makes you feel better.
  • Set visible limits. If you find it particularly hard to deal with a person you cannot avoid, let them know when, where and for how long you’re going to see them. Tell them you’re busy if they call, or simply avoid answering. You don’t have to force yourself into something you don’t feel comfortable with.
  • Consider your behaviour. At times, we are the toxic person. If you see that someone avoids your presence or doesn’t answer your calls, consider asking them what’s wrong with the relationship you have, if you think you two know each other enough. If you don’t, try calling less and not forcing them into seeing you too much.
  • Find new hobbies and activities. If you are the toxic person, or the one who always looks for the other, consider finding a new hobby. In this way, you’ll meet new people, learn new skills, get to know your own self better and let other people breathe. On the other side, if you feel uncomfortable with a relationship, keeping yourself busy will make it harder for them to reach you. By the way, remember that finding new occupations is not the key to better an unhealthy relationship, and, firstly, you should point it out.
  • Seek help. No matter if you’re the toxic one or the uncomfortable one, talking to a therapist about your relationship will surely help. At times, we cannot solve our problems by ourselves, and talking to someone qualified about them is the most important step we can take.

Did you find the article useful? Do you have other suggestions? Experiences to share? Feel free to write them in the comments below!


How to deal with depression

This surely is a difficult topic, but I find it extremely important to spread knowledge about it. In this article, we’ll explore strategies to deal with the most common of mental illnesses.

To know more about depression itself, read this article which I previously wrote about symptoms, definition and perception of depression in our society.

This is a little guide in ten steps on how to deal with an enemy as depression:

  • Reach out for help. This is really important: don’t try to overcome depression by yourself. You deserve help and acceptance. Get into therapy, look for a good psychologist and talk to them about your problem. Talking to someone who’s there to listen to you is the first step to heal.
  • Forgive yourself. You weren’t able to get that mark you wanted because you felt too exhausted to study. You know what? That’s ok. Your mental health comes before your grades, before your job, before standards.
  • Rest when you need to. You see your friends partying all the time and your collegues working so hard, while you can’t help but sleep. That’s fine, you’re fighting a hard battle, fighting depression asks for a lot of energy.
  • Don’t force yourself. If you don’t feel like going out today, it’s okay. You don’t have to prove shit to anyone, take your rest.
  • Remember that a bad moment shouldn’t ruin your whole day. If you lay in bed for three hours, that doesn’t mean you cannot grab your coat and go for a walk now. Remember that you are in control of your time.
  • Look for activities that bring you pleasure. It happens, at times, that what we enjoyed before depression doen’t seem that cool anymore now. That’s ok, we’re individuals that are made to move, to change. Try out new stuff, and spend time doing what you love. Here you can find a list of activities worth trying.
  • Apply the previous point to sex. If you’re sexually active, but don’t find pleasure in sex anymore, that’s also ok. You don’t have to force yourself into something you don’t feel like doing. Talk to your partner and look for new romantic activities to do together with them.
  • Reward yourself. Recovering from depression is like training to win a marathon: reward yourself for every extra mile.
  • Whenever you feel down, make lists of your qualities. Try writing a list of the things you’re capable of and pointing out at least ten qualities. Write another list and point out what you were able to achieve in your life and are proud of. Write a third list and add your goals for the future. Remember yourself why you want them so bad.
  • Remember you worth. You’re strong, brave and deserve the world. You will overcome this, reach your goals and have the life of your dreams. Don’t give up.

A look at depression

I’ve decided to write this article because of the fact that I was diagnosed with depression earlier in my life, and had to face a lot of stereotypes and difficulties regarding social awareness. Whether you’re the one suffering from it, or you’re looking this up to better understand a friend or relative, I think it’s important to spread information and acceptance of this mental illness.

First of all, what’s depression? It’s a medical illness, which negatively affects the way you think, feel and act.

It’s relatively common in our society: one in six people will experience depression at some time in their lives. On average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s, but it can strike at anytime.

The main symptoms of depression include:

  • feeling sad
  • loss of interest in activities that we once enjoyed
  • changes in appetite (eating too much or too little)
  • troubles sleeping or oversleeping
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • loss of energy
  • feeling worthless or guilty
  • thoughts of death and/or suicide

These symptoms have to last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression, and don’t have to be present all at once to indicate depression. If you find yourself in these symptoms, please don’t remain silent, talk about it with a loved one and ask for help.

If you have a loved one whom you suspect is suffering from depression, here are some steps you can take to help them.

What I find interesting is the impact depression has on people’s lives and the way they’re perceived by society.

So, who are depressed people? Are they dangerous? Are they annoying? Are they, in any way, different from the rest?

Depressed people are often people who don’t stand out, who are not dangerous and, most of the time, who are really clever. Depression affects the way people think and act, but doesn’t make the ones suffering from it any dangerous or annoying people. Here are some traits that people who suffer from depression usually have in common:

  • They lack energy: they will cancel plans and/or pretend they’re busy all the time to get a little bit of rest.
  • They lack motivation. They usually won’t be able to accomplish the goals they set, due to their lack of motivation.
  • They pretend they’re fine. Depressed people don’t like to admit that they’re feeling sad, and will make up excuses to justify their silent behaviour at times.
  • They have low self esteem. Depressed people don’t see themselves in a positive way, and therefore will make jokes about their personality and/or don’t believe in themselves at all.
  • They keep silent or point out really deep stuff. People who suffer from depression will most likely avoid deep conversations or have a huge part in them. They’re people who like to observe, and this will lead to them pointing out really interesting stuff or stay silent and keep it for themselves.

Apart from these points, which by the way aren’t common to all people suffering from depression, those fighting it are usual people. They’re fighting a battle inside themselves, that takes up energy, time and courage. If you have a friend who’s suffering from depression, remember it’s not that they’re lazy or cannot take things seriously: fighting depression in exhausting, and they’ll need your support at times. Don’t leave them alone in this battle.

Would you like to know more or have something else to share? Write it in the comments below.

How to deal with toxic parents

Here’s a simple guide in 10 steps on how to deal with toxic parents, since I know how hard it can get at times. First of all, remember you’re loved, and, if you need anything, or just need to talk, feel free to message me:)

  • Remember your value. You’re a special, kind human being, who’s dealing with a difficult situation, but believe me, you’ll get out of it and you’ll get better. I know it can get hard at times to believe in yourself when your parents are the first ones to drag you down. If you feel suffocated under the pressure of their comments, reach out for help: you deserve it. Don’t ever let the people you love tell you you’re other than strong, brave and beautiful.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions. One thing I’ve heard so much while growing up was: “They’re still your parents”, as a way to say I had to love them, no matter how they behaved. Well, forget it. Toxic is toxic, I don’t care if it’s your friends or your family, remember what’s better for yourself. Don’t ever let the bond you have with a person justify the way they make you feel. You don’t have to love your parents, or even like them. Express the way you feel towards them, no matter what you’re told to do.
  • Make space for yourself. In a toxic family, spaces are often difficult to find. Always remember flowers need sunlight to bloom, and they cannot grow in the shadow. You cannot grow in a toxic environment: set boundaries, see your friends more often if you need to, go for a walk when you feel overwhelmed and don’t force yourself to stay still when things aren’t working out for you.
  • Get therapy. A toxic thing my mother told me while growing up was that, if I asked for therapy, the problem was mine. Getting therapy is in no way a dimonstration of weakness, therapy is a moment when you allow yourself to breathe, to figure out the ways you need to react to a difficult situation. Don’t renounce it for what your parents think of it.
  • Find support. Your friends aren’t psychologists, but they’re loving and supporting people who want to help you grow. Trust them, ask for help when you need it, don’t isolate youself.
  • Don’t vent out too much with your friends. If finding support in your friends is what you need to do in order to feel good, venting out too much with them will affect the relationship you have with them. As I said before, your friends aren’t psychologist: remeber it. If you find yourself asking for a bit too much support, consider therapy.
  • Don’t fall into their traps. Something my mother does a lot is becoming extremely nice all of a sudden, apparently for no reason at all. I used to always fall into it when I was younger. I became optimistic and thought that things could finally work out between us. Time has shown that it was just a perpetual cycle: after a while she would get angry at me for a meaningless event, and I would feel bad about it and about myself again. It’s called intermittent reinforcement, and makes you believe you are the problem in the relationship. You are not. Don’t stop being optimistic, just direct your optimism elsewhere: believe in yourself, in your friends, in the relationships you’re building.
  • Don’t expect deep conversations. I’ve always loved discussions, and have tried a lot to have deep, meaningful ones with my parents. I don’t think I have to say it never worked. Don’t expect your parens to understand you or to tolerate any difference between the two of you. Your opinion is valid and important: feel free to express it with your friends, and all those people you love the most. Don’t waste your time in stupid conflicts when you know it will end up like that.
  • Keep a diary or a journal. Writing what you’re going through and your feelings will help you perceive them from a more objective point of view. What at first sight may seem a huge problem, when you think about it, will become a lot easier. Use your jounal to express your thoughts and analize difficult situations.
  • Their behaviour doesn’t define who you are. You aren’t someone’s daughter or son, you are someone. Decide who you want to be and figure out who you are. It’s up to you to decide it. Don’t normalize their behaviour, expect yourself to be better and work for it.

How to treat people with mental illnesses

The purpose of this article is to help spread knowledge and acceptance towards mental illnesses and how to react to them. Too often, in fact, we don’t know how to react to people with depression or anxiety, and end up both making our friends feel uncomfortable and feeling weird ourselves.

Let’s make it clear, as a beginning, that there are a lot of different mental illnesses and that every person has their own way of feeling, and, as a consequence, even if we have had experiences with mental illnesses, we should never feel entitled to judge someone.

Here are some tips on how to act with people going through something rough:

  • Don’t judge. I don’t care if you had depression yourself, if you’re a cancer survivor or if you think you’ve had it worse. People are different and react differently, never ever should you feel entitled to judge someone you know nothing about.
  • Be open and listen if they need to talk. At times, the simple act of listening to them can make people feel valued and loved. You never know how important it can be for someone to just have a friend’s comprehension.
  • Don’t give advice if they don’t ask you for it. I know this may look like a weird suggestion, but most people with mental illnesses know what they should be doing, they just don’t have the energy to do it. Do not ever say anything like: “You just need to eat”, or “You would get over this if you went outside more often”: it’s extremely painful to hear something like that, believe me.
  • Do not belittle the problem, no matter how little it looks to you. You’re not them, remember it.
  • Don’t point out what’s worse. Some people automatically do it: when they hear of someone’s problems, they feel the need to point out that there are worse situations. Ever heard anything like: “Come on, there are literally people out there dying because they cannot get access to food”? Yeah, same. This is toxic, remember it and avoid it.
  • Do not force people into doing things they don’t feel like doing. It’s nice to be propositive, but if the answer is no, don’t try to change it. This surely has some exceptions, in particular when trying to help someone get into therapy, however, let’s make it clear that forcing your anorexic friend to eat that slice of pizza will only make the situation worse.
  • Suggest them to see a psychologist. Don’t force them into doing it, but point out the positive aspects of such a decision and be supportive if they decide to go for it. Say that you can go with them the first few times if they need to, or offer your help with calling and getting there.
  • Check on your friends once in a while. We all have a busy life, but, if you don’t find time for your friends, can you really call them so? Try to check more often on those friends of yours whose behaviour looks so weird lately, and make sure they know they can always count on you.
  • Remember not to be too present. It’s really nice if you decide to help people who need it, but don’t jump into their lives at any possible moment. Remember people need their privacy and their time alone: understand it and act consequentely.
  • Remeber about yourself. Don’t let all your energy sink into a toxic behaviour: it’s good to help, anyway, if you feel like you’re getting too involved, remember to take a step back and care about yourself.