How coaching improves setting your boundaries

What do we mean by boundaries?

Definition: The dictionary determines it as “an edge or limit of something”.

Sheela Hobden

In wellbeing terms, we translate it to how much you sustain your physical energy by taking breaks and maintaining boundaries (e.g. not letting work take over).

How does it break down?

There are two core components with boundaries. Firstly, time to re-charge yourself. Second, your “line in the sand”.

For example, what you are prepared to tolerate, and what you are not.   It is one of the most frequent things I notice people struggle with, when seeking to make changes in life and finding their well-being. 

How come it is so hard?

It is not surprising really, because many of the people I work with, are in the “helping professions”; doctors, practice managers, teachers.  People who are almost have a disposition to put others first. 

And what comes with that territory, or an occupational hazard, let’s say, is finding it hard to “say no” to others demands. Even harder to say “yes to myself”. 

One could argue that its actually a barrier to coaching in itself. If you are so busy with everyone else, it is hard even to find time for yourself. 

Extended issues from difficulties with having boundaries is a reluctance to “get help”, feeling that it is self-indulgent, or even selfish, to take time out for oneself/delegate some of our workload.  It is worth remembering that it is a strength to seek help. 

As humans, we are wired to connect, we thrive on collaborating with others in pursuit of a goal – so have a little ponder on that.

How does coaching help?

Firstly, people have decided to take the step to invest in themselves by working with a coach.  Not just financially, but in time, dedicated to themselves, and in focussing on getting what they want.   

Next, coaching is completely client-led.  This means you have to get used to saying EXACTLY what you want, and then getting comfortable with the space to get it. 

What happens in regular coaching that really works?

Doing this regularly, as people do during the coaching process, means they are practicing this habit of thinking about what they want, asking for it AND dedicating time to work on it.  They determine the direction and choose the agenda (see also “sense of control”). 

For many people, this is new.  As the coaching process evolves, we realise these benefits and become more and more committed to it, and to ourselves.  Not only do we protect the time for the coaching, we also find ways to carve out time to do the things we have realised we need, in order to get the life and/or career we want. 

What else do we know?

Another bonus is that, the practice of being clear about what you want/don’t want starts to show itself in day to day life.  We plan our lives around others, and often leave our own requirements to chance.  And so, the realisation that things happen when they are planned, is often a lightbulb moment.

Planning in something as simple as taking a 10 minute walk round the block at lunchtime can lead to big impacts.  In just 10 minutes we can find space to refresh our mind and body. 

With “line in the sand” it is all about knowing where your limits are. In terms of clarity on what you are, and are not prepared to accept.  How often have you skipped a lunch break or an exercise class to do something for someone else?  This also links to knowing your values (another popular coaching area, for discussion another time!)

What are people experiences?

So, here’s what a client said about boundaries:

“putting myself first has the knock on effect of making others happier so isn’t as selfish as I thought”

bluegreen Coaching client quote

Want to start helping yourself?

Have a think about these questions: 

What do you need? 

What does it take for you to say “yes” to YOURSELF to get them?

Looking for more? Take a read of this:

This article is also part of a series on how coaching benefits well-being. Others in the series are “How coaching helps build a positive mindset“, “How coaching brings a sense of control” and “How coaching improves sleep“.

Feature Image courtesy of Jenny Hill on Unsplash.

Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden is a Coach at bluegreen Coaching.  Following her own mental health battles, she now coaches individuals, runs training sessions and speaks at conferences.  She has a real passion for helping medics and healthcare professionals take as much care of themselves as they do their patients in whatever life or career conundrums they face!  She is also a Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor. She has a PGCERT in Business and Personal Coaching, holds PCC member status with the ICF and is CIPD qualified. She challenges herself with ultra distance running and Ironman.  Find her at or swimming in the sea, in Poole, Dorset

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