Do you often feel like you are being pushed to the limit? Whether it’s an aggressive salesman at the door or a friend who won’t take no for an answer, we often find ourselves holding to a boundary that the other person doesn’t want to accept. 

When that happens, it might be tempting to cave under the pressure, but it’s important that we honor our own needs. How many times have you agreed to do something and ended up regretting it or being resentful about it? When we’re maxed out, taking on more will leave us ragged and exhausted. You can avoid such feelings by learning to say no. Sure, it’s uncomfortable at first, but entirely worth the effort. Here are five ways to set healthy boundaries.

Look Inward

Before you can fortify your borders, you need to look inward and explore where you are at in your life. If you are particularly busy and have many people who depend on you, it makes sense if you don’t want to take on more. You may find it irritating that your coworker asks you to lunch every day so she can vent. You may not have time to volunteer for your child’s classroom activities. Home-cooked meals? Not this week!

And that’s okay. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad friend or a bad mom. It won’t always be this way, and you’ll have other chances to do your part. Be honest with yourself, take inventory of your life, and make your decisions accordingly.

Communicate Your Needs

Declaring your boundaries can be difficult, especially if those around you are not used to you saying no. After all, if you do what they need you to do, then it’s beneficial to them

Be prepared for resistance and stand your ground. You do not need to repeatedly explain yourself. You do not need to defend your boundaries. You know what you need and others will have to accept and respect it.

Address Repeat Offenders

You’ve expressed your needs, set your boundaries, given reminders, but some people continue to pressure you try to do things you’d rather not. It’s going to be difficult but you will need to address their behavior. Be honest about your feelings and what you think of their actions. If they still don’t listen, you may need to cut ties, if only temporarily, in order to change this dynamic in your relationship.

Don’t Give in to Guilt

There are few things more uncomfortable than having people put pressure on you, particularly if you are susceptible to guilt.  Once you have taken a stance, others should respect your decision—but this doesn’t mean they will. If they don’t, address the issue directly, and cut ties if they don’t listen (see previous paragraph.)

It can be hard to set boundaries, especially if you’re used to giving in to the demands of others. Chances are that has left you exhausted and in need of change. While the people around you may resist your efforts to make yourself a priority, stick to your guns. You will be amazed by how much lighter you feel when you respect your own limits.