By Wendy Maxwell

QUESTION: I’m married with kids, I work full time, and I serve at my church. I haven’t had a day to myself in months, and I feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Am I doing too much, or do I just need a vacation?


A vacation sounds lovely, and I expect it would be nice to get away. No matter how much you enjoy a vacation, however, it will not solve your problem in the long run. What would make a lasting, positive impact on your overall functioning is better boundary setting.

Often when I use the “b” word with clients, their anxiety level rises due to a lack of understanding what a boundary is and is not. A boundary defines what is yours and what is not, what is OK and what is not OK. While we see physical boundaries all around us – fences, gates, etc. – the intangible, unseen boundaries we should have with others and ourselves can be more difficult to figure out.

One issue that can be an obstacle in creating and setting boundaries is faith. I might fear that If I say no, I am not a good Christian, and therefore I should never set limits or say no. The Bible is full of examples of boundary setting, and while this column doesn’t allow for an expansion of this point, the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend illustrates how faith and boundaries should be intertwined; boundaries should enhance faith, relationships, and work, and should improve overall functioning.

The idea of self-care ties into boundaries as well. As a wife, mother, employee and volunteer, you are always serving others. This work is good and noble but shouldn’t exclude time for yourself. Taking that time isn’t selfish. It is an acknowledgement that you aren’t a robot with unlimited internal resources. You must recharge and slow down. In making this a priority as part of your shift toward better boundaries, you will find you are better able to fulfill your roles and responsibilities

I would also encourage you to consider how your spouse and your children can take on more responsibilities. This may involve shifting boundaries with yourself as well as your family. I would further suggest that you consider how you are volunteering in your church. Perhaps there are ways to fulfill that role differently, or perhaps you should consider a different volunteer position. It is also acceptable to recognize that we’re not always equipped to serve in a significant role in every season of our lives.

Again, I recommend the book “Boundaries” as an excellent resource to help navigate limits with yourself and others. We were not meant to live our lives exhausted and overwhelmed. The great news is that in creating and maintaining boundaries, this problem will be greatly reduced.

Wendy Maxwell, LCSW, is a graduate of The University of Mississippi and The University of Alabama. She has a private counseling practice in Ridgeland focused on treating women with anxiety, depression, and change of life issues. She is a married mother of two young adults and enjoys working in her yard, reading, and cooking with friends.

Pro-Life Mississippi