Daily Resilience: Boundaries

Making boundaries is hard! Sometimes it can feel like having boundaries is not loving or kind to the people around us. But in reality it is a great way to love others and ourselves. Often when we are in situations or in relationships with no boundaries it can lead to those things becoming toxic. Take a minute to reflect on these questions:

What does having boundaries mean to me?

How do I implement boundaries in my life?

Where are areas in my life that I know I need more boundaries?

What are boundaries?

I think of boundaries as how much access others have to you. Access to you in whatever way is a privilege not a right. We can set limitations and boundaries on how much access someone has to us emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and sexually. This also applies to access to your time and physical items (Campbell, 2021). These types of boundaries are applicable to all areas of our lives and we get to decide what they look like in various relationships and settings.

This is not easy!! It can be very difficult to set boundaries with people. It’s also hard to accept within ourselves the boundaries we need. Consider taking some time reflecting on these questions:

What area in my life do I feel like I need more boundaries?

What category of boundaries is most difficult for me to implement?

Which of my boundaries is most important to me and why?

Resilience & Boundaries

  1. Boundaries help facilitate safety. This is so important to building resilience! It is very difficult to build resilience while we are in spaces that we feel unsafe. That is because our brain and body are detecting that we are mot safe, whether that be emotionally, mentally, or physically, and will trigger our body to be on alert and possibly release stress hormones. This then triggers us to be in a survival mode and not in our resilient zone. When we have boundaries it allows us to be comfortable with the access people have to us, which helps us to feel safe.
  2. Boundaries help us regulate stress. When we don’t have boundaries we can find ourselves in situations that are stressful and possibly triggering. When we have boundaries we can set ourselves up for success in situations that allows us to not be overwhelmed by stress.
  3. Boundaries allow us to identify and communicate our needs. Having boundaries helps us to communicate our needs to our friends, coworkers, and loved ones. It can be hard to communicate what we need, but having boundaries established a head of time allows us to know what we need and implement that.



Daily Resilience: Beyond Survival

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by stress that you find yourself just reacting?

Have you ever found yourself reacting impulsively when something reminds you of a past trauma?

These are possible situations where our body is in a survival zone. When we are feeling overwhelmed by stress, experience a trauma, or our body detects a danger our brain signals our body to release stress hormones to get to safety. The danger could be emotional, mental, or physical and our body is working to get to safety through enacting a survival response. This is a good system our body has when we are in danger and needing to get to safety. But when we stay in these zones for long periods of time it can have impacts on our brain and body. It impacts how our brain perceives safety and may cause our body to be in a survival zone when we are actually safe. This can impact our decision making, our ability to accomplish our goals, our relationships, and the way we perceive safety within ourselves. We will briefly look at the four survival zones and then discuss how to move beyond our survival modes when we are safe.

Survival Zone

The survival zones are fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. For most of us we probably experience a mixture of these survival reactions in our lifetime. There is not a linear answer when looking into our own stress and survival responses.


  • Emotionally reactive
  • Physically and verbally acting out in aggression
  • Being stuck in this survival zone can cause the body to release excess stress hormones


  • Feelings of numbness and disconnection
  • Not being able to physically or verbally respond
  • Being stuck in this survival mode may result in it being more difficult to work through the stress


  • Emotional reactivity
  • Physical or mental reaction to get away
  • Being stuck in this survival zone can cause the body to release excess stress hormones


  • Seeking safety by pleasing the people around you
  • Satisfying others at the expense of your own needs to feel safe
  • Being stuck in this survival mode for long periods of time may cause excess stress hormones when interacting with others we are trying to please.
  • In this survival response our safety is linked to appeasing other people which could impact how we experience safety within ourselves.

Beyond Survival

Working through our stress and trauma involves a variety of steps and looks different for all of us. Here are some possible considerations when working through our own survival responses, stress, and building resilience.

  • Working to increase calm in our mind and body on a regular bases. We can do this by practicing resilience skills like grounding, focusing on things we love, and shifting our attention when we are getting overwhelmed.
  • Consider talking to a mental health professional. This can be a really helpful option to work through past and present issues that are impacting your stress levels.
  • Practicing yoga. I am a big fan of yoga specifically for increasing calm in our mind and body. Practicing yoga gives us a safe space to tune into our body and to release stress and tension through slow movements. This can be a great thing to add into your life to release some of the stressful energy and to incorporate into your daily calming techniques.

Safety and Resilience

Defining Safety

What does safety mean to you?

Safety relates to our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is being protected against dangers and comfortable to live without risk of harm. There are three levels of safety including internal, micro, and macro.

Internal safety is when we feel comfortable, secure, and protected within ourselves. This could include in our emotions, thoughts, or simply within our physical body. We could feel unsafe internally due to abuse, sexual assault, struggling with unhealthy thoughts, or overwhelmed by our emotions or stress. There has been times when I am in an emotional spiral and having dark thoughts and feel unsafe within myself. What does it look like to feel safe internally? This could be feeling balanced and not overtaken by emotions or past traumas, or it could be feeling comfortable to be yourself, to feel whatever feelings you feel, and be in your body with feelings of acceptance and trusting yourself.

Micro safety is being safe within our immediate relationships, living situation, our daily habits, work, and social interactions. There could be a number of reasons why peopl feel unsafe in these areas. A small example from my life is from the last apartment I lived in. I loved the apartment at first, but the longer I lived there the more I felt uncomfortable with my neighbors because of their lifestyle, their arguments, and unsettling noises. I was on edge all of the time and even started wearing ear plugs or headphones 24/7. I would get frustrated with myself because people arguing and yelling is normal for a lot of family systems, but it was so triggering for me that I just wanted to run away. I laughed with my grandma about this once because even though I did not know these people and the argument had nothing to do with me whenever I would hear them arguing I was definitely going to be falling apart before the couple who was actually arguing. Because I felt unsafe emotionally within my home it impacted other areas of my life too and even my physical wellbeing because I had such a hard time sleeping and I was not able to enjoy my space. It is so interesting to compare that situation to my current living situation. I feel comfortable and my neighbors are very nice. Because I feel emotionally and physically safe I have found that I am crafting more, hanging out at home more, dancing and singing around the house, even gave my neighbors gifts for Christmas, and I got a pet rabbit. Feeling safe in my immediate context has been a game changer.

Macro safety is when we feel safe within our community and in society. Factors that could contribute towards not feeling safe include living in communities with violence or not feeling accepted in society because of racism, classism, agism, or any other “ism” that puts people at a disadvantage. This would also apply to groups that face stigma due to having physical or mental illness. Not feeling accepted, wanted, or valued in society can have a huge impact on whether or not a person or even group of people feels safe. I saw someone post on social media recently that they are tired of this “woke crap.” This is how the dictionary defines woke as an informal adjective, “alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism.” I just want to note that even if you are not in a group or space where you feel unsafe within your community or society, having empathy for others is being willing to consider someone else’s perspective and situation and how that might impact them, even if it is not your particular experience.

Empathy word cloud on a white background.

Safety & the Brain

Our brain, specifically our amygdala, is constantly scanning for signs of danger. It is sometimes referred to as the smoke detector of the brain. The amygdala can be triggered by a danger of a physical or emotional nature. There could be times where the amygdala communicates with your body that it is in danger in times when you are actually safe, due to being triggered by something around you, whether that be a smell, tone, appearance, or sound that reminds the brain of a past danger.

Our nervous system has two different responses being sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic just means our nervous system is activated by danger or stress. Whereas parasympathetic is when we experience calm and relaxation. It is incredible how both states of impacts our whole system. This is due to the vagal nerve that runs through our body, as well as hormones that are released during times of stress and danger (Dana, 2020). You can see this demonstrated in the image below.

Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous System. Difference. diagram with connected inner organs and brain and spinal cord. Educational guide of human anatomy. vector illustration for medical and science use

How Safety Impacts Us

The autonomic nervous system ladder is a concept from Polyvagal theory (Dana, 2020). Author Deb Dana, has written several books that discusses this well and I would recommend these if you want to dive into this concept deeper: The links below are my referral links for Amazon:

When we feel safe we are able to be our best selves, be engaged, connect with others, and build resilience. Like displayed on the ladder as our safety decreases, we disengage and go into one of three survival mode of flight, fight, or freeze. Safety is essential to thriving (Dana, 2020).

How to deal with your daily ups and downs: The four R’s of restoring connection – Sequence Wiz

Evaluating Your Feeling of Safety

Here are some reflective questions to journal or think about to consider safety and how it is impacting you:

  • How can you increase your feelings of safety?
  • Think of a time when you felt safe and secure within yourself. What was that like and how did it impact you? How did you feel or what kind of thoughts were you having? Were you in a certain situation or atmosphere that contributed towards feelings of safety?
  • Imagine what it would be like to feel safe internally. What kind of circumstance would you be in or what kind of feelings or thoughts would you be having?
  • How has safety impacting your thriving or resilience?
  • Where do you feel you are on the autonomic ladder?

You are worth protecting and are a valuable person who should be kept safe internally, in relationships, at work, in the community, and in society. If you are in crisis or in danger here are some numbers you could call for 24/7 support:

  • Emergency Services: 911
  • Crisis Text Line: 741741
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
  • Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services Administration Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP


Dana, D. (2020). Befriending Your Nervous System. Speech. Audible.

Source of Autonomic Ladder image: https://sequencewiz.org/2019/10/16/how-to-deal-with-your-daily-ups-and-downs-the-four-rs-of-restoring-connection/

Threshold Globalworks, founder of Social Resilience Model. https://www.thresholdglobalworks.com/

woke definition – Bing