Learn How to Set Health Boundaries During COVID-19

December 8, 2020 Natasha Tracy

Health boundaries, including mental health boundaries, can save your sanity or even your life, especially in the times of COVID-19. Setting health boundaries with those we love -- especially over the holidays -- can be very difficult, but is also so very important. Read on to learn about how to set your own personal health boundaries.

What Is a Health Boundary?

My definition of a health boundary is pretty simple: it's a boundary that is defined to protect your health. Similarly, a mental health boundary is specifically defined to protect your mental health.

Most people don't think about health boundaries during their everyday lives, but now, during a pandemic, and especially during the holidays, health boundaries are critical and can actually save lives -- your life or even the lives of those around you. Similarly, mental health boundaries can save your mental health, which is often at risk over the holidays, not to mention during a pandemic in general.

Examples of Health Boundaries and Mental Health Boundaries

A health boundary is a limit you set to protect your health. This might be ensuring that you wear a mask everywhere outside of your house, maintaining social distancing or refusing to travel over the holidays. Right now, all of these boundaries could literally save your life as they can keep you from contracting (not to mention passing along) COVID-19.

As for mental health boundaries, these are often relationship-based. For example, you might be willing to have dinner in your parent's home, but you may refuse to stay there when visiting. Another boundary might be not talking about food and weight issues, if you have an eating disorder, or discussing politics, if you simply find it too distressing. All of these mental health boundaries can keep you more mentally healthy, during the holidays and beyond.

How to Set a Health Boundary

First of all, it's important to know that health boundaries and mental health boundaries are important, and you deserve to have your boundaries, and your health choices, in general, respected. I know it can be hard to put yourself and your health first, but it's critical. Remember, some inconvenience and uncomfortable conversations now are worth it when you're not in the hospital in the new year.

First of all, sit down and consider what you will and won't do during the holidays (and during this pandemic) to protect your health and mental health. Think about what you need from yourself, others and the environment in order to stay safe physically and mentally.

You need to be reasonable and define health boundaries that you and others can follow. For example, if you want everyone to wear full protective equipment around you, unless you provide this gear, it may not be possible. (This, by the way, isn't necessarily unreasonable for someone who has a compromised immune system.)

Once you decide on your health and mental health boundaries, you may want to write them down and take a look at them. Consider your reasons for your boundaries -- don't judge them, but do be aware of them. Ask yourself if you're happy with those boundaries and if you're willing to enforce them. If you're not willing to enforce a boundary, then it isn't much good.

Finally, consider how your health or mental health boundaries need to be enacted. Ask yourself what you need your boundaries to look like in real life. I know this can be hard, but again, you and your health are worth it.

In my next post, I'll be talking about how to communicate a health or mental health boundary so that others will respect it and what to do if your health boundaries aren't respected.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2020, December 8). Learn How to Set Health Boundaries During COVID-19, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 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, 10 2020 at 7:38 am

Well Miss Sweetness & Light
It angers me to no end the attention that this pandemic has received and I for one am I’m truly sick of hearing about it
If you want to talk boundaries...
What about all the people who have not only fallen through the cracks but deep crevasses during this pandemic because of the various pre-existing societal boundaries such as those between rich/poor, employed (working at minimum wage jobs)/unemployed, educated/uneducated young/old, those with abusive dysfunctional families/or living single and alone, black (as well as other minorities & immigrants) versus the white priviledged, people with physical health issues like cancer etc, or even disabilies/those who are stigmatized with severe mental illness like deep, deep depression or the people suffering with schizophrenia. Many of these people are suffering far worse than you and I. They are angry and in my opinion have every right to be at a world that has forgotten them. Who is listening to their voice? These people have been socially distanced for years!!! The only boundary left for them is anger and rightly so.

December, 14 2020 at 2:30 pm

Hello M,
I certainly agree with you that many people with serious mental illness (like bipolar, like me) and other conditions are socially distanced. I also agree with you that many other strata of society have been distanced as well. I have to say, however, this post wasn't written to address those issues.
Right now, COVID-19 is killing 2000-3000 people per day in the US and people are making it worse every minute because of their actions. I would say that is worth the attention it receives.
That doesn't mean that all those other issues, including health issues, are not important, because they are. That doesn't mean that every post can take them into account, however.
- Natasha Tracy

December, 8 2020 at 10:02 pm

The Canadian Mental Health Assn has been warning for some time now that the ongoing social isolation imposed by our government, (a type of boundary) is taking it’s toll on our mental health.
Millions of dollars are being spent on this damn pandemic but very few dollars on mental health. Where was all this money ages ago that could’ve been used to improve mental health and addiction services. More people have died from the opiod crises in this province than from covid19!!! Where was all this money before that could’ve been used to fight homelessness and build more affordable housing. Where was all this money ages ago that could’ve been used to help fight violence against women and children (who are now imprisioned in their homes with abusive alcoholic spouses/parents, thanks to this pandemic and the government imposed restrictions).
Or selfish governent manadated liquor stores an essential service, really??? How cold is that!!! Yet so many other businesses are going under. They don’t give a damn about the negative effects alcoholism has on others! The honest truth why Liquor Store are allowed to stay open is because of the HUGE revenue (especially in taxes) it brings in for the government
As per usual physical health takes presidence over mental health
Just like putting a prisoner into lockdown or social isolation is a form of punishment so is the effect of this pandemic on mental health
Stigma is the barrier that creates the boundary between physical and mental health that unjustly keeps us suffering for “crimes” we didn’t commit
I for one am tired of this bloody pandemic and the ever increasing government restrictions! I’d rather die physically of covid than die mentally from another year of social isolation. No one even knows for sure how long these new vaccines will “protect” us for. There are so many different strains out there now anyway.

Lizanne Corbit
December, 8 2020 at 5:07 pm

I love that you talk about both health and mental health boundaries here. As we continue to navigate life during this pandemic time both of these things are so important for us to look at. Boundaries are always vital for true health and wellbeing, this is exponentially important during these physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging times.

December, 8 2020 at 8:44 pm

Hi Lizanne,
Thank you for your comment. I agree with you completely. Boundaries are so important and yet still so hard.
- Natasha Tracy

Leave a reply