4 Tips for Latina and minority women on setting boundaries in the workplace

Many women, especially Latina and minority women, struggle to set workplace boundaries. There are multiple factors that contribute to this issue, from cultural norms, gender biases, personal insecurities, and external pressures. 

Why many minority women struggle to set workplace boundaries 

In a Forbes article on “The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries”, award-winning coach, author, speaker, Sahar Andrade, shares some of the contributing factors that lead minority women to setting poor workplace boundaries. In the article, Andrade cites issues such as  low self-esteem, needing approval from others, learned helplessness or the fear of being rejected or criticized as well as cultural expectations. 

“I come from a culture where women especially are not supposed to say no or resist anything imposed on them,” Andrade says. “At work, I would accept all projects pushed on me even if they were not mine. In my personal life, I would not speak up in my relationships until resentment and anger defined me and my actions.” 

Many non-American cultures, especially cultures of color, are also more likely to be collectivist cultures as opposed to individualistic cultures, as cited by therapist and researcher, Sadaf Vidha, in an article about minority women setting emotional boundaries. 


“In individualistic cultures, the person or individual is the primary unit,” she explains, while in collectivist cultures, “family is the primary unit and the individual exists within it.” 

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In many non-American cultures women are taught to not resist anything imposed on them and take on tasks that benefit the collective. (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels)

Growing up in a culture like this can make it difficult for minority women to recognize their own needs and set necessary boundaries. Many are taught from a young age to value the needs and desires of their families first and foremost, and this mentality often translates to the workplace later in life. 

Like the family, the team in the workplace becomes the collective, causing minority women to prioritize the needs of other team members over their own needs. 

Ayanna Abrams, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and cofounder of Not So Strong, expands on these cultural pressures and further defines boundaries and why they are necessary in an article by ESSENCE

“I view boundaries as our rules of engagement. [They are] the rules in our relationships that allow us to feel healthy, safe, and have access to different parts of the relationships. Having our boundaries honored can deepen our connections with other people,” Abrams explains. 

For minority women who struggle to know when to set boundaries, Abrams encourages people to listen to their bodies and check in with their mental health. 

“Black women have been taught that what other people need from us is more important than how we’re feeling,” she says. “I always encourage people to come back to your bodies. If you use your body as your source, it will determine where your [boundaries] need to be drawn. If you don’t give yourself sleep, your body will crash.”

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Having boundaries is not selfish or rude, they are a crucial foundation on which to build your relationships. (Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash)

4 Tips for setting workplace boundaries

Setting healthy workplace boundaries is an important part of one’s self-care and mental health. Setting these boundaries can also help prevent workplace stress and burnout in the future. Having boundaries is not selfish or rude, they are a crucial foundation on which to build your relationships both in the workplace and beyond.

Here are a few tips to help minority women set boundaries in the workplace. 

  1. Practice self-awareness. Make a habit of checking in with yourself from time to time. When you’re feeling down or stressed out at work, examine where those feelings are coming from and assess if they can be fixed by setting a boundary. 
  2. “No” is a full sentence. Sahar Andrade says this in her Forbes article on setting boundaries. It can be hard to say “No” when you have always said “Yes.” However, getting comfortable with this word is crucial to setting effective boundaries. Often, women feel the need to over explain or make excuses for why they are setting a boundary, but just saying “No” is enough. 
  3. Enforce your boundaries. The best way to get people to understand your boundaries is to repeat and enforce them. Some may think setting a boundary is a one-time thing, but more often than not people need to be reminded. Don’t be afraid to assert your boundary and set consequences for when your boundaries are violated. 
  4. Listen to and respect others. Another great way to show people how to respect your boundaries is to be an active participant in listening to and respecting the boundaries of others. When you show others that you respect them, they in turn are more likely to respect you and your own boundaries. 

Ultimately, setting boundaries is healthy and necessary to foster a happy and thriving workplace. Boundaries help ensure all individuals are being valued and are not being taken advantage of or overworked. Setting boundaries in the workplace will help to avoid future conflicts, resentment, and burnout while also strengthening relationships and promoting self-care and mutual respect.

How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

We’re all  familiar with the term “burnout”, a term that is used over and over again in the workplace and often synonymous with being “stressed out.” However, burnout is more than just usual workplace stress and it can have lasting effects on one’s physical and mental health if not addressed properly. Below are some resources for recognizing burnout symptoms and tips for managing them. 

Burnout is on the rise 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recategorized burnout as an occupational syndrome, “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Previously, burnout was only considered “state of vital exhaustion,” though the Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to diagnose burnout, and it is still widely used today. 

This diagnostic tool, developed by Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology (Emerita) and a core researcher at the Healthy Workplaces Center at the University of California, Berkeley, is used by experts to identify burnout in individuals. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, burnout occurs when these three factors are present: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

An article by Forbes reported that workplace burnout is on the rise since the pandemic began. A study conducted by the job-seeking site, Indeed, found that: 

  • 52% of survey respondents are experienced burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who reported burnout in Indeed’s pre-pandemic survey. 
  • Millennials are the most affected population, with 59% reporting feelings of burnout. However, Gen Z is following closely behind at 58%, up from 47% pre-pandemic. Additionally, Baby Boomers reported a 7% increase in burnout since the pandemic began, now at 31% compared to the 24% reported pre-COVID-19. Finally, Gen X is close in numbers with Millennials and Gen Z, with over half (54%) of Gen Xers reporting experiences of burnout in the workplace. 

COVID-19 shook up the workforce globally, leading to drastic changes in workplace environments. While working from home may have been easy or beneficial for some, others struggled to adapt and establish routines or juggle both work and family. Among those who responded to Indeed’s survey, 80% believe Covid-19 impacted workplace burnout with a 67% majority saying burnout has worsened since the pandemic, while 13% believe it has gotten better.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Signs of burnout in the workplace

The signs of burnout are not always easy to spot, especially while they’re happening. Many brush off burnout as simple workplace stress. Everyone has bad days, right? But burnout is more than just a few bad days or even a bad week.

Burnout is when there never seems to be a good day anymore. Burnout is a chronic response to untreated workplace stress. If you think you may be experiencing burnout, it’s crucial you take a step back and seek help to navigate and overcome these feelings, because burnout can take a toll not only on your mental health, but your physical health as well. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, you may be experiencing burnout. These may also be signs of other mental health issues, such as depression, so it’s important you speak to your doctor or mental health provider about these feelings. 

Other key signs of burnout include: 

  • Not feeling excited about your work anymore
  • You have stopped putting your usual effort into your work
  • You’re exhausted, easily drained, and emotionally depleted
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as insomnia, chest pains, headaches or migraines, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, or gastrointestinal pain. 

What you can do to manage burnout and how employers can help 

Managing burnout is usually not something you can do alone because burnout is a result of workplace stressors which are often outside of your own control. This is why it is important for employers to be aware of burnout and work with their employees to address the common triggers. 

On the personal level, you can work to change your mindset and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Practicing mindfulness and exercising regularly are great ways to naturally cope with stress. Setting aside time each day to do something fun and creative is also a great way to get rid of stressful energy and cultivate joy. 

Another way to deal with burnout is to make changes in the workplace, such as changing your workload, taking a vacation, or even a prolonged break, and making changes on a systematic level. This is where employers come in. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, approach your boss to have a conversation about the fact that you feel overworked and identify ways to change your workload.

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Employers should also lead by example, cultivating a work-life balance and encouraging employees to use their vacation days and sick leave when needed. One way to encourage work-life balance is to set clear boundaries for when someone is “on the clock” and when they are not, such as only responding to work-related emails during the workday and not glamorizing or encouraging overtime work. 

The most important thing is open communication and speaking up when it all feels too much. Burnout in the workplace doesn’t have to be inevitable.

entrepreneurs' happiness,

Why entrepreneurs have the most stressful – yet most satisfying – jobs

Ute Stephan, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Aston University shares key insights on entrepreneur stress, happiness, and well-being.

Entrepreneurs have some of the most stressful jobs. They must grapple with uncertainty and be personally responsible (and liable) for any decision they make. They have the longest working hours of any occupational group. And they have to rapidly develop expertise across all areas of management from finance, marketing, procurement, and operations to human resource management in the process of starting and managing their business.

Yet despite all this, research finds that entrepreneurs are happier and seemingly healthier than people in other jobs. So how can we explain this paradox?

To understand entrepreneurs’ happiness, I conducted a comprehensive and systematic review of 144 empirical studies of this topic, covering 50 years. Here are the five key findings that sum up the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.

1. It’s not all about pay

Work on the economics of entrepreneurship traditionally assumed that entrepreneurs bear all the stresses and uncertainty associated with their work because over the long term they can expect a high financial reward for their effort. Yet the evidence shows that entrepreneurs earn less than they would if they, with their particular skill set, were working as employees.

When you ask entrepreneurs how they measure their success, happiness often comes out on top, alongside autonomy. Income features much less prominently.

2. Highly stressful

At the same time, there is substantial evidence that entrepreneurs face myriad stressors that diminish their happiness. High workload and work intensity, as well as financial problems facing their business are top of the entrepreneurs’ stress list.

stress at work

Entrepreneurs face more stress, yet have the most satisfying jobs. Photo created by gpointstudio on

Although they diminish entrepreneurs’ happiness, some stressors have an upside. While they require more effort in the here and now, they may lead to positive consequences such as business growth in the long term. Some entrepreneurs appear to interpret their long working hours in this way – as a challenge – and therefore turn them into a positive signal.

3. Autonomy is both good and bad

The autonomy that comes with being an entrepreneur can be a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs can make decisions about when and what they work on – and with whom they work. Having the freedom to make these decisions is one of the key motivators for the majority of entrepreneurs to start a business in the first place.

But, as the saying goes, there can be too much of a good thing. Recent research into how entrepreneurs experience their autonomy suggests that, at times, they struggle profoundly with it. The sheer number of decisions to make and the uncertainty about what is the best way forward can be overwhelming, especially when the constant high workload means that there is little time to carefully think through decisions. Then there’s the fact that investors and other stakeholders can significantly limit entrepreneurs’ autonomy.

4. It’s not only personality traits

There is evidence that people with certain personality traits such as self-belief or emotional stability are more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs. And, in turn, these personality traits are associated with higher levels of well-being. But studies that consider personality traits and autonomy at the same time are scarce.

Nonetheless, autonomy still seems to be the biggest reason for high levels of job satisfaction among entrepreneurs. Plus, the personality traits that are most characteristic for entrepreneurs are relatively specific and malleable such as self-belief and initiative-taking. This kind of entrepreneurial mindset can be trained.

Emerging research also finds that the nature of people’s work can shape their personalities. This, intriguingly, suggests that people can develop an entrepreneurial personality through their work as an entrepreneur.

woman leading meeting female leadership


5. An addictive mix

The evidence review confirms that, by any stretch of the imagination, entrepreneurs’ work is highly demanding and challenging. This, along with the positive aspects of being their own boss coupled with an often competitive personality can lead entrepreneurs to be so engaged with their work that it can become obsessive.

So the most critical skill of entrepreneurs is perhaps how they are able to manage themselves and allow time for recovery. Prolonged exposure to work that is as intense as that of entrepreneurs takes a physical toll on peoples’ bodies. Hence future research into recovery strategies of entrepreneurs can help them manage their highly stressful, albeit satisfying, jobs.

Entrepreneurs’ well-being matters

Entrepreneur happiness matters not just for the entrepreneurs themselves, it also matters for their partners’ and children’s well-being. Plus, happy entrepreneurs are less likely to give up and close their firms. They are in a better position to recognize opportunities and be more effective at work, which culminates in more successful businesses.

Many features of the world of work today reflect challenges faced by entrepreneurs – high levels of uncertainty, intense work demands, and personal responsibility among them. So understanding entrepreneurs’ happiness affords us a glimpse into how we all may manage the demands of this new world of work.The Conversation

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.