Setting pandemic boundaries with loved ones

The coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing. Our socially interactive lives have changed at various levels during the last years.

Among all the buzzwords we hear during this time such as health, safety, precautions, etc., setting boundaries has become a part of our everyday lives. Wearing masks in public, or traveling to other places only if required, has become the new normal in our lives.

Although it is easy to set boundaries with strangers, it is challenging with your loved ones like friends and family.

This article is about how to set mindful boundaries with your loved ones during a pandemic.

Is it ok to set boundaries during pandemic?

Whether pandemic or not, physical and mental boundaries are necessary when we interact with others. It is a way to ensure our own well-being.

Especially during this time, we need to reset our boundaries in order to contribute toward the battle against the pandemic.

We have different understandings of what our personal limitations are. However, it is important to know your boundaries and put them in a place where necessary.

It is not easy to control the behavior or the thoughts of other people even if they are your family members. What you can do is to follow a set of self-imposed boundaries for your benefit as well as for the benefit of others.

How can you set boundaries?

1.      Think about your boundaries beforehand:

The best way to set boundaries is to think and write down what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. If you are in a family relationship, all the family members can get together and list out things that you can do at the personal level and together with everyone.

Once you write them down, it is easy to remember and follow them up had the circumstances arise.

For example, cleaning your face and hands before you enter the home is a protective measurement these days. It is easy to keep a piece of soap in an outdoor area so that everyone can do a quick and basic cleaning before they enter the home. If all the family members agree upon such things, it is easy to maintain a hygienic environment at home.

Remember to revise the list as the COVID phases change. 

2.     Communicate:

Communication is the key to let others know what is in your mind. The list you make regarding your boundaries helps you communicate with others.

Let your friends and family know how you feel during a particular place or circumstance. If you are a person who does not like to hurt others, just remember your safety is a priority.

If your family members are not following the safety rules such as having a shower as soon as they get back home, let them know their hygiene habits can put everyone at risk.

If someone is visiting you from overseas or from another state, communicate beforehand what safety precautions you have taken inside the home, so that there will be no surprises or hurt feelings regarding your interaction with them.

Healthy communication can prevent any misunderstandings or misinterpretations and maintain your relationship with your loved ones. 

3.      Be informed:

Getting correct information is essential during this time. Information eases making correct decisions.

Suppose you get an invitation to a family event such as a wedding. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Get to know how many guests are participating, if the event is held indoors or outdoors, what safety measurements are taken by the hosts etc.

Once you get enough information, it would be easy to make a decision.

4.      Practice saying “no”, if required:

Although you can say “no” to others, it would be hard to say “no” to your loved ones even amidst the pandemic.

However, if we would like to say goodbye to the pandemic, setting boundaries is necessary even with loved ones.

The best way to do this is to be creative in expressing yourself so that others will not feel ill-treated.

If a friend invites you for a gathering, you can say “I can stay only a few minutes at your place, or I can meet you outdoors. Simply let down the invitation if you feel uncomfortable participating in the event.

Convey your ideas politely, so that your friend would not get offended or feel hurt by your safety measures.

5.      Respect others’ health concerns:

While you can set boundaries for yourself, you need to be aware and respectful of others’ views as well. If your loved ones opt to have no guests at home including you, try to understand their safety concerns.

If someone is not wearing a mask in public (which is optional in some countries), and you think it is important to do so, feel free to walk away from that place. After all, your health is important to you as well as to your family.


Final thoughts

On a final note, while we are trying to get back to our normal lives, the pandemic has not come to an end. We still need to follow the safety measures at home as well as outside. Setting boundaries is the best way to remind you about what you can do and what you cannot do during a pandemic situation.

If everyone is creating this space for a healthy and safe environment, it would be possible for us to win this challenge successfully.

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash


Rathsara (Sara) is an attorney-at-law who holds a Diploma in Buddhist Studies in ITBMU. She has engaged in community service in Sri Lanka and the United States helping many individuals. She is interested in reading, writing, and researching areas related to mindfulness. Inspired by spiritually developed individuals around the globe, Rathsara is keen to learn and practice mind-developing techniques. In the meantime, she would like to share her experience and knowledge for the well-being of others.

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