Setting Boundaries and Disrupting Stress With Michelle Garside of Soul Camp

In the hustle and bustle of the new year, finding time for self-care, like working out or accomplishing other personal goals (date night, anyone?), can seem nearly impossible—especially when you are a parent, working professional or both. For many of us, stress is at an all-time high and boundaries are at an all-time low.

Michelle Garside is the creator and co-founder of Soul Camp, and a wife and mother living in always-on New York City. As busy as this mom and business owner is, Garside still makes self-care and family time priorities in her life.

We asked Garside to share her tips for setting personal boundaries and making time for soul-care, and disrupting a stressful day.

Create space

“You must create the space and carve it into your schedule,” Garside says.

The mom and business owner will set placeholders in her calendar, just like she would with meetings, interviews or phone calls she needs to accomplish that day. Simple placeholders like Michelle is at a yoga class, or lunch with Meghan (her business partner), or baby class with Ryker (her son) keep her and others from setting meetings or other agendas during that block of time.

“It’s very clear to me that health care is not selfish—it is necessary to be able to function at your optimal self,” Garside explains. “Just like your body needs a certain amount of food and nourishment and movement to have your cells thrive, your soul needs that same nourishment and movement to thrive on its own.”

For Garside, that means setting aside nonnegotiable time for things like dinner with friends or a Broadway show with her husband—something she calls “soul food” for them both.

“Especially now that I’m a mom, I don’t view it as selfish at all. It’s prioritizing myself so I can show up as the type of mother that I want to be.”

Disrupt a stressful day

Recognize you’re not present

In order to recognize and disrupt stress, Garside says, she has to first recognize she is not present.

“If I’m scrolling on Instagram or I’m refreshing Facebook, I’ll say out loud, ‘Put it down. Stop.’ I need that out loud, really loud,” Garside says.

Get present immediately

Next, she finds a small, simple way to get more present immediately—recently, that’s been getting on the ground and playing with her son Ryker. Other ways Garside suggests are getting outside in nature. For those in a corporate environment, she suggests putting your phone down between meetings and going outside—sans phone. Or walking to get your lunch instead of having it delivered to the office.

“Get outside and feel the fresh air without your phone in your hand. Look up and take in the fact that you’re alive,” she says.

Don’t set expectations

Garside also notes that she makes an effort to not set her expectations of what the day will or will not be and simply allows it to unfold as it will. This also means not bringing old issues from previous days into a new day—something she admits is tough.

Come back to compassion

“I find the best way to enjoy myself and relax is to come back to compassion and patience when I feel myself getting frustrated or anxious,” Garside says. “Setting clear boundaries before going into a situation is key. Give yourself an out, step outside for a few deep breaths if you get overwhelmed and come back with a clear head. Everyone will benefit.”

Photo credit: Dakota Corbin, Unsplash; courtesy of Michelle Garside