How undergraduates can effectively communicate boundaries

How undergraduates can effectively communicate boundaries

Switching from personal classes to distance learning can be tricky, especially when you share space with your family. Transition is bound to
have hiccups, but there are things you can do to set yourself up for success–and that’s laying healthy boundaries.
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Here are four key tactics to consider:

1 How to communicate needs around online courses
Speaking about your needs is an essential part of staying on track with your studies. And for that, specificity is critical, says Dr Leah
Guttman, a clinical psychologist in New York and founder of Washington Square Therapy, a private practice specialising in emotional well-being
for young adults.

He suggests that something like this happen: “I’m distracted by online courses, so it would help me to focus if the guest bedroom is
inaccessible from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on class days. You don’t mind? This will avoid confusion or resentment caused by a vague question like ‘Can’t
you interrupt me so much?’

2 How to communicate needs around personal space
It can be challenging to discuss personal boundaries when you are also trying to preserve your study time. But it’s still a meaningful
conversation.

“The consequence of living nearby is that we easily get angry at others’ actions, often because the other person just didn’t know what we wanted them to do,” says Dr Guttman. The important thing, he says, is to be open to negotiations on the other hand when they have these conversations.
Both sides should feel that their concerns are met with compassion and understanding.

“Maintaining open communication lines will lead to a strengthening of the relationship, not only during the pandemic but also after social
distance measures have been abolished,” says Dr Guttman.

3 How to deal with feelings of guilt
The pandemic has created a fundamental shift in how we live our lives. For some, this means they will no longer financially contribute to their education through things like part-time work, thereby creating feelings of guilt. But as Dr Guttman points out, responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean it’s justified.

He suggests finding other options such as helping with childcare, cooking meals, and shopping, providing meaningful support for your parent or guardian.

“Even better, however, you can remember that what most family members need right now is to provide emotional support to each other. Practice your self-help and take care of your family,” he says.

4 How mental health issues communicate
By June 2020, 40% of Americans reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse, according to a study conducted by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re also working with mental health issues, having a candid conversation with loved ones is essential to getting the support you need.

Dr Guttman suggests that this be designed as a search for understanding from the other person. For example, you could say, ‘I’ve been fighting X
for a while. Do you have any suggestions on how to get over this?

“When you bring another person into your world by share your life experiences, it’s as if they’re going through it, too. The person you share
with will feel that you value their opinion and you will be more inclined to help you, and you will see that you succeed,” he says.

For those dealing with mental illness or facing stigma around mental health issues, this can be a difficult task. But it is important to remember that you are not alone to start to get help and feel better. If you are not satisfied talking about your mental health with the people
you live with, reach out to another close friend or family member via text or video, or start on the road to finding a mental health
professional.

 

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