Knowing How to Set Limits during Confinement Is Vital for Your Health

Just because we're at home all day during confinement doesn't mean we're always available. We also need time to disconnect, both from messages and video calls and from those days of excessive work at home. Setting limits during home confinement is essential.
Knowing How to Set Limits during Confinement Is Vital for Your Health
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 February, 2022

Teleworking is taking people an average of 10 hours per day. We’re using messaging and video calling services more than ever. It’s ironic that we’re sometimes being forced to set limits during home confinement.

Jane Wilde Hawking, Stephen Hawking’s ex-wife, wrote in her book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen that the only thing that really matters is safeguarding our survival. Thus, we can certainly apply this phrase to the current situation.

However, within those survival capsules that are our homes, we’re also obliged to safeguard another valuable asset: our well-being.

During these weeks of forced confinement, we’ve lived and learned many different things. Each one of us continues to handle the situation as well as they can, with varying degrees of success.

Some people are connecting with themselves again through a more leisurely, intimate, and laid back life. Others, however, are struggling with anxiety.

In each of our own personal situations, there’ll be a time when we have to set limits in one or more areas of our lives. Let’s have a look at them below.

A woman having a coffee.

Knowing how to set limits during confinement is good for your health

It’s clear to all of us that, in life, being assertive and knowing how to set limits in certain situations is a guarantee of peace and mental balance. However, we’d never have thought that we’d also have to set limits in the present context of confinement. This is, indeed, very strange.

Isolated as we are for a good part of the day, we expected to enjoy the contact with our loved ones through video calls and messages. Also, we believed that teleworking would mean that we’d have a better quality of life, as we’d be able to choose our schedule and balance it with our family life.

However, what happened is that we discovered that daily life at home isn’t easy either. Therefore, this puts us in situations that we have to start to calibrate differently.

Teleworking and online education still need to be improved

Telecommunication companies tell us that our peak connection time starts at 9:00 a.m. This is when most e-mail exchanges occur.

On average, teleworking days can extend to 10 hours, instead of eight. What’s even more striking is that many people even work between midnight and 3:00 a.m. The reason for this is simple. They’re unable to concentrate during the day and have no choice but to work at that time when, for example, their children are finally in bed.

On the other hand, we can observe many shortcomings and imbalances in online learning. For example, some teachers only assign exercises and homework without giving any online explanations. Evaluation systems aren’t always the most accurate either. And another important factor is that not every child has a computer at home.

Setting limits during confinement means knowing how to organize your time. Proper time management in terms of teleworking will allow you not only to be more productive but also to avoid stress.

And, as far as online schooling is concerned, it’s also advisable to establish a limit on what can and can’t be achieved.

In most cases, parents have an added burden, as they now have to try to help their children with their schoolwork. This is a problem that must be assessed and resolved.

A cup of coffee on a laptop.

Being at home doesn’t mean you’re always available

Setting limits during confinement also means that others should understand that you aren’t always available.

Sometimes, you simply won’t feel like having a conversation on Zoom or any other video call platform. This doesn’t mean that you love those people any less. It’s simply because you need time to relax and read or even do nothing and calm your mind.

We all need to understand that each person has a particular rhythm and needs. Sometimes, and almost without even realizing it, we spend hours writing messages and calling others.

All of this is positive and is, in many ways, our daily salvation in the days of confinement. However, we all need a break and time to spend on ourselves. Therefore, setting a limit is healthy in these cases as well.

Mental limits are also necessary

The need to set limits during confinement also involves monitoring how you’re doing. As we already mentioned, you need to raise external containment barriers. For example, you need to reduce the amount of information you receive.

However, in addition to better managing your time throughout the day, agreeing with friends and family when it’s best to make video calls, you must also erect mental walls.

What does this mean? It means, for example, setting limits on excessive worry. Yes, you need to understand that well-being is knowing how to be assertive with others. However, you also need to be assertive with yourself and control what you can on an internal basis.

Yes, it’s true that some things are beyond your control. You’re dealing with uncertainty and fear on a daily basis. However, you must put a stop to those thoughts that anticipate things that haven’t yet happened and to those that visualize worst-case scenarios and, thus, worsen your anxiety.

Let’s be clear: attending to your internal universe is as important as controlling your external environment. Your well-being depends on knowing how to set limits and knowing what you need most at each point of the day. Make sure you’re doing it!

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The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.