How to Set Boundaries in an Anxious World

Michelle Rabon

iBelieve Contributor
Published: Feb 11, 2021
How to Set Boundaries in an Anxious World

I spent a warm afternoon last week curled up on the couch with a book, trying to shut out the noise of the world and the anxiety creeping into my day. As I sat there in my favorite spot, I read a sentence that stopped me, it talked of protecting our personal peace.

I put the book down and wondered what was I doing in my life every day to protect my peace. How was I living that reality? Was I living that reality?

Was I resting in the truth that Christ spoke, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

We must protect our peace because it is God given.

I have spent years in counseling, reading books, and even taken medication to help me cope with the severe anxiety diagnosis I have been facing over half of my life. I’m in a constant fight for peace. I am always doing the work of protecting my mind and heart, keeping them fixed on Christ. That is my reality.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Protecting our peace looks like putting boundaries in place, kicking triggers out of our lives, and saying “no” or “yes” to a multitude of things. It looks like making a list and sticking with it, and never apologizing for it.

I was ruthless when I sat down with my counselor to make a list of what needed to be done in my life in order to calm the chaos and guard my heart. My family has looked at me funny, my friends have questioned my decisions, but each one was needed.

Protecting one’s peace will look different for each of us.

There are 10 simple boundaries, safe guards, choices that needed to be made in my life. Some are no doubt easier than others, but it is exactly what is needed.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Bulat Silvia

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1. Eat clean.

1. Eat clean.

I love a good bowl of ice cream and a large cup of coffee (not together, but you get what I mean). I am a sugar junky by nature. In the last few years I have noticed a pattern: the worse my diet, the more anxious I feel. When I fill my body with artificial foods, excess caffeine and sugar, I struggle to maintain a healthy mind. However, when I fill my diet with protein, vegetables, and nutritious things, I find I can cope better with every day stress and anxiety.

2. Put down your phone.

Yes, I said it. Walk away. Put it in another room, silent, and out of reach. Nothing on the device in your hands will deliver peace. It will keep your stress high and your mind full. In the last fifteen years phones have robbed us of so much. We feel we cannot live without it, we crave constant information and digital connection to others. There is a great chance that your anxious mind needs a break from your phone and social media. It is ok to turn it off and walk away.

Photo Credit: © Getty/Westend61

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cell phone on fire satan social media

3. Stop constantly watching the news and reading headlines.

This is the one that made most of my friends turn their heads. I watch absolutely no news and read no headlines. Both are destructive to my mental health. 24-hour headlines and news is not something any of us need. There was a time when people functioned just fine without a constant flow of news. If it robs your peace, turn it off.

4. Turn off the TV.

I love television, don't get me wrong. I have a strong love for PBS Masterpiece programs and would be content to numb out on shows all the time. However, we need some time to slow down our minds. Setting boundaries with television means we don’t constantly take in new information. It means we can clear our heads and do other things.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/eugenekeebler

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5. Pick up a hobby.

5. Pick up a hobby.

This is by far my favorite way to protect my peace. I can settle in my favorite spot on the couch with a blanket and a good book. I can crochet things for the people that I love. I can watercolor just to ease my mind. Having a hobby allows us to use our minds for something creative. Maybe creative hobbies are not your thing, do something that brings you joy.

6. Get outside.

Move your body, be in the sunshine. Sitting still will not protect your peace. Take a walk, it will make all the difference.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash

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dad and kid listening to music

7. Plug your ears.

This is invaluable when my mind begins to feel chaotic, if I put my headphones in and listen to worship music or an audio book I can take a deep breath. I can tune out the chaos for a moment until I can calm myself down. When I listen to worship music I am reminded who is the Author of Peace.

8. Establish a routine.

For people with anxiety, routine is necessary because it is predictable. Predictability protects our peace. Our family has the same routine most days and while mundane doesn’t work for everyone, it is exactly what I need.

Photo Credit: © GettyImages/YakobchukOlena

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woman looking sad standing alone far from a group, how to be you when you don't feel like enough

9. Don’t entertain joy stealers.

You know who I am talking about. For most people, someone comes to mind. There are people in our lives who, whether intentionally or not, can suck the joy out of us. Maybe it looks like not entertaining conversation, or putting yourself in a position to be alone with that person. It is ok to have boundaries with people who are negative, or treat you poorly.

10. Ask for help.

This is the most important part of protecting your peace. When we seek counseling, or talk to a trusted friend, we are doing the best thing for our anxious hearts. We need to bring people alongside to help us practically work through our anxieties and set up the right boundaries and have the right tools to do the work ahead of us the best that we can. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

When we take steps to protect our peace we are leaving space for Christ to fill the gaps that are robbing us blind.

Your boundaries are your own to create and must fit within what you need to protect your peace at all costs. Be ruthless, ask hard questions of yourself, pay attention to what triggers your anxious heart. Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/fizkes

Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.

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Originally published Thursday, 11 February 2021.