The Courier

Some months ago, I wrote an article about resiliency and how one’s spiritual health can contribute to it. Continuing on the topic of resiliency, one thing that can have significant effect on CAF members’ resilience is the ability to set healthy boundaries between one’s work and family life.

As members of the Department of National Defence, we have come to develop a wonderful attitude towards duty and mission. This is our bread and butter. It is important to also develop the inclination to look after one’s health. Setting boundaries is one of those things we learn from our families and sometimes from our friends and society at large. “Research indicates that in families with healthy, flexible boundaries, each person is able to develop into a distinct individual with their own unique interests and skills. This helps foster well-being, self-control, and self-esteem”[i] In other words, setting boundaries is a very important activity in the life of our members.

We’ve heard news about members’ burnout. Some people may look at such members as being weak or unfit for the job, but the truth is, burnout may be caused by not setting boundaries. This is in line with the thought of Susan Biali Haas: “A lack of boundaries will cause you to take on workloads, priorities or burdens that aren’t yours to carry. The good news is that once you implement some strategic boundaries and practices, your stress levels will usually drop. You’ll be more focused, and have more time and energy to get key things done.”[ii] Burnout, as we all know, is antithetical to resiliency. Susan Haas goes on to suggest things to do to avoid burnout and promote setting boundaries: “First is to set time for essential work: Making schedules and timelines are essential to the success of boundary setting. It is good to ‘figure out what you need to get done, and how many hours a week you’ll need to do it. Decide when you could fit it into your schedule, and implement it.’”[iii]

Secondly, create challenging but realizable expectations: Being a DND employee can automatically make one a highly conscientious person and we are expected to work at a high level of excellence. Moreover, the higher the rank the higher the expectations, and both your superiors and your subordinates expect the best, and everyone knows they can count on you. Don’t go off looking for unrealizable expectations, be realistic and strategic. Finally, know your personality needs and work on it: Some people are built to be outgoing, while others are withdrawn (introverts and extroverts). Find where you belong and set your boundaries accordingly.

These three suggestions will enable members set boundaries when it comes to their life at work and life in their families. We ought to work hard at offices or workplaces, but also create personal time to decongest after hours of working. Bringing work home may be detrimental to one’s health and could reduce productivity. So, the next time you are tempted to bring your work home, ask yourself if the work can comfortably be done at the office. If the answer is “yes,” then, it would be better left at the office.

[i] Michelle Brooten-Brookes; “What is Boundary Setting?” How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Anyone (

[ii] Susan Biali Haas; Why Lack of Boundaries Can Lead to Burnout | Psychology Today Canada

[iii] Ibid.

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