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How to Maintain Relationships While Taking Care of Yourself

Relationships

March 31, 2023

Sometimes, we give our all to our friends, family and significant others and forget about our need to maintain our relationship with them. It's essential to set boundaries, put yourself first when you need it, say no when they ask you for something you can't do, and even make difficult decisions regarding the status of your relationship with them if that's what you need for your mental health. Here are some things to look out for and ways to balance your relationship with others and yourself.

Learn How to Say No

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I have struggled with saying no when I can't do something and committing to it anyway because someone close to me wanted me to do something. I have often regretted this decision since I committed to something I did not have the time for or did not want to do. It leads to anxiety and unnecessary pressure to meet someone else's expectations.

It can cause you to not give your best in things you must do for yourself and make you overwork yourself. Instead of taking everything up, understand that your work and health are your priority, and you don't owe anyone favours because you're close to them. It's okay to tell them that you're busy or uninterested. If they care about you, they will understand and respect your decision.

Learn to Prioritise Yourself

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Make sure your schedule and how you feel about something are a priority. If someone asks you to do something you can help them with but are busy, you can always tell them that you will do so once you meet your prior commitments. You don't have to drop everything and let your own life take a backseat to someone else.

Don't Let Anyone Guilt-Trip You

Often, people may try to manipulate you into doing something for them. They may say, "I did a certain activity for you when you were struggling; you owe me." There are better ways to ask for someone's help. Doing something due to manipulation in this way would only put more emotional pressure on you, and others would feel like they could take you for granted.

Set clear boundaries, and the moment you feel like something is getting toxic and manipulative, try to remove yourself from the situation. While this is easier said than done, contact your support system to help you.

Don't let Self-Fulfillment Depend on Others

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Don't let your self-worth depend on validation from others. If it does, you will push yourself to do things for them to feel fulfilled. While it is not wrong to help your loved ones, know that your self-worth does not come from how much you help them.

Let your source of self-fulfilment be something that depends on you, not others. Again, people with malicious intentions can always use you and manipulate you if they realise that your self-esteem comes from somewhere else, not within yourself.

Know that You Can Take a Step Back

I have had several experiences where I had to step back from friendships where I was too invested, and the other person did not put in the same effort. It got exhausting to keep going out of my way while they did not reciprocate. Eventually, I had to make a decision for myself and step away from these friendships.

I only ended up giving them what I received. While it was difficult initially, I could use the energy I spent on them on people who cared about me and were a more active and vital part of my life. I could also invest this energy in self-care activities.

If you Need Space, Tell Them

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Sometimes you may just want to be left alone or don't have the capacity to put effort into a relationship. If you ever feel this way and need space, tell your friends you need time for yourself. Taking time for yourself helps them better when you do have the capacity to do so.

Inform people around you that you are taking space to work on yourself when needed. Once again, if they care about you, they will encourage and respect your decision.

It's Okay to Reach out for Help

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If you're struggling and someone is offering you help, it's okay to accept it if you trust them. Sometimes it's difficult to reach out to people around you if you're facing problems and receive their support when you need it. Identify the people who you can trust and tell them when you need them.

Let them in and give you the support you give them. This can be hard if you have been betrayed, and having a positive outlook is not always the best idea or an easy thing to do. Still, it's always good to have a small support system that may only consist of one or two people.

Remember, quality over quantity. Suppose you feel like your friends or family are not the right people to help. In that case, you can also try out spaces like online forums and communities and get professional help such as therapy or medication. You are not alone; if you reach out, someone or the other will be ready to be there for you.

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Maintaining positive and healthy relationships does not only involve giving. It also involves balancing your needs and constantly working on yourself by listening to your mind, body and gut. The right people in your life would see you prioritising yourself as a strength.

They would appreciate your effort and support you no matter what. While it's difficult, listen to your gut and let go or distance yourself from people you think aren't good for you. It can be a complicated process, but at the end of the day, you're the only one who can genuinely care for yourself and set boundaries based on your needs. Understand and develop a healthy relationship with yourself; all your other relationships will fall into place!

Sapna Kappal
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Sapna is a graduate of Psychology with a Literature minor from India. She enjoys discussing and writing about pop culture, music, mental health, travel, language, and diversity and is going to do research in the field of language and intercultural communication in the UK.

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