Getting Others to Respect Your Health Boundaries

December 10, 2020 Natasha Tracy

Have you tried (and maybe failed) to get your health boundaries respect in the past? If so, you know how tricky it can be. In my last post, I talked about setting health and mental health boundaries. I acknowledged their importance, particularly now, in the midst of a pandemic. Today, I want to talk about how to communicate with others such that they respect your health boundaries. 

Communicating Your Health Boundaries for Respect

Getting respect for your health boundaries starts with how you communicate about your health and mental health. Setting your health boundaries is one thing, but communicating them is when it gets complicated because this is when other people's thoughts get involved.

When communicating so that others respect your health boundaries, consider these tips:

  • Communicate in a clear and concise manner. Don't make excuses or feel like you have to explain yourself. Boundaries are healthy and you defining yours is healthy too.
  • Choose a time to communicate your health boundaries that is appropriate. In other words, choose a time when you are alone with the other person, and there is time and space to have a focused, calm, and rational conversation. Driving in a car, for example, is likely not a good time due to the split focus involved.
  • Communicate your boundaries early. Don't wait until Christmas Eve to tell people that you won't be attending a huge dinner that has been planned for weeks.
  • You may wish to discuss your reasons. While you don't have to explain yourself, if you're comfortable with it, you may want to discuss your boundaries with others. If others understand your thought process, they may be more likely to respect your health boundaries.
  • Quote medical restrictions, if necessary. Right now, there is a lot of medical guidance regarding health boundaries we all need to respect, so quote this guidance if necessary. (You might also have specific guidance from your personal doctor, too. Use that in the same way.)
  • Clearly say how your boundaries will be put into practice. For example, if your boundary is that you always wear a mask around others and social distance ("How to Practice Social Distancing While in Recovery"), you might say that you're not coming to Christmas dinner because dinner doesn't allow for those things.
  • Clearly state what will happen if a person doesn't respect your boundaries. Be clear about what you feel is reasonable if a person doesn't respect your health boundaries. For example, if a person refuses to social distance and wear a mask with you, tell the person you can't see him or her in-person until both of you receive a vaccine. Perhaps you can make online dates instead.
  • Back up your words with actions. As I said in my previous post, a boundary that you won't defend isn't a boundary. If you say you will do something, then do it. If you say there are consequences to not respecting your health boundary, follow through. This is about respecting yourself and demanding respect from others. And remember, demanding respect today sets a positive president when you want to receive it tomorrow.

When Others Won't Respect Your Health or Mental Health Boundaries

We all know people that have varying views on health boundaries, especially during the current pandemic. You should expect this going in. This difference of opinion is going to make some people more likely to not respect your health boundary.

But remember, a person's difference of opinion regarding COVID-19 or your health boundary isn't necessarily a repudiation of you as much as it is political, personal, or sociological. It's easy to take it personally, and while that may be warranted, also consider that it might not be. Consider whether you want this disagreement to harm your relationship. Remember, you can disagree and still respect your own health boundaries. You can disagree and still be very close to people. Yes, it would be great if everyone would offer us the respect we deserve, but that's not the planet on which we live. I generally find that in matters where one or both people are entrenched in their positions, it's best to just agree to disagree. Do what you need to and let the other person do the same.

I know that respecting your own health boundaries can cause dissent when others refuse to understand your position. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't respect your own health boundary. Remember, the life or mental health you may be saving is your own or that of a person you love. It's better to spend the holidays alone than the New Year on a ventilator (or in the morgue).

You are strong for standing up for what matters. In time, hopefully, your loved ones will come to respect that.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2020, December 10). Getting Others to Respect Your Health Boundaries, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

December, 11 2020 at 4:15 am

Earlier this week I had started my work day off in tears. I work with the public so I had to quickly pull myself together because people were beginning to notice. The fallout of this @!#! pandemic was taking it’s toll. The contant rant going on in my head for months now has been “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life”. I couldn’t wait to get home and crawl into bed.
At the end of this exceptionally difficult day as I was on the train headed home, minding my own business, the train stopped at one on the stations, I briefly looked up from my phone to see what station I was at and was egged by a young boy as he ran out the door of the train. I was stunned as I sat on that train for another 45 min with egg dripping down the front of me, without making any effort to wipe it off, and seriously considered ended it. I took a picture of myself covered in that mess and sent it to my family and friends then turned off my phone... I remembered of the words of Kevin Hines, the man who jumped off the Golden Gate bridge and lived...
When I turned my phone back on the next day I received a ton of support from family and friends... but instead of making me happy I was mad at the entire world!!!

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