Tag Archive for: boundaries


What is “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?”

Here is a guest blog from one of our current practicum students, Abigail Overstreet. Abigail is in the MSSW/MSCFT dual degree program at the University of Louisville Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work.

The phrase “bedtime procrastination” is first credited to this 2014 study from the Netherlands. The addition of “revenge” seems to have first started appearing on Chinese internet sites in 2016, according to Health.com. Since then, the term revenge bedtime procrastination has found its way onto social media platforms, especially after writer Daphne K. Lee publicly tweeted, “Learned a very relatable term today: “報復性熬夜” (revenge bedtime procrastination), a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

Although delaying sleep to finish ‘just one more episode and/or chapter’ is a very human experience, the repeated procrastination of sleep to meet some interpersonal need is most often found in overworked people. Populations that are predisposed to this habit are parents of young children, students, caregivers, or professionals with poor work/life balance. In some cases, the habit of revenge bedtime procrastination formed during a busy season of life and has continued even though the need for it has passed.

What to Do

-Take an honest inventory of your daily activities and see where your minutes are being allotted. Those ten-minute social media scroll breaks add up—one of the easiest ways to tally your phone usage is to activate your phone’s ability to monitor your screen time.

-Learn to be present in the current activity and space. When you’re at work—do work, when you’re home, be fully engaged with your family and your leisure time. Obviously with the pandemic, this separation of physical space has become easier said than done, but if it is possible, devote a singular space or consistent set of hours to your work and then step away. Stop devoting today’s mental energy to tomorrow’s tasks.

-Stop setting yourself up for failure and recognize your limits–even Clark Kent only published one newspaper a day.

-Seek out respite services or rely on your support network to get some critical ‘me-time’ while caregiving or parenting.

-Speak to a counselor/therapist about time management and sleep hygiene strategies if you’re still struggling. We at True North Counseling are here to assist you.

Book Review: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

What is Essentialism?

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices re-actively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

A Review

This book came to me via a recommendation from Bossed Up, an online group for women that deals with career, relationships and life. (Bossed Up has an accompanying podcast, which I also recommend.) I started reading the book at a time when I was struggling with setting my priorities and creating balance in my life. The first suggestion from the book that I followed was to make a pie chart of how you want to spend your week, including work, family, faith, hobbies, and any other things that you feel are important in your life. Then, spend a week tracking how you actually spend your time. If you’re anything like me, how you want to spend your time and how you actually spend your time are not the same. At that point, you have to examine your priorities, and focus on what you want the most. My mind was blown when I heard (I listened to this book on audio) the author, Greg McKeown, say, “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing and it stayed singular for the next five hundred years.”

(That sound you hear is my mind exploding.) What he’s saying is this: You cannot have priorities. You can have priority. You have to decide what is the thing that you want to build your life around. I suggest that your priority be something that feeds your soul, gives your life meaning, and gives back to your community. But the great thing about priority is that you get to decide what that thing is.

Here’s the other mind-boggling thing from the book: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

There will always be people telling you that THIS is the most important thing. Looking this way, being this kind of parent, doing these sorts of things, going on this kind of vacation… When you change your default answer from “yes” to “no,” you open up a world of possibilities for yourself. McKeown also writes, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” Too often it seems that people and organizations will tell you that this one particular task MUST be attended to, RIGHT THIS SECOND! One guideline I suggest is asking the person making the demand, “Where (or to whom) should I shift my other tasks so that I can give this task the time it deserves?” Alternatively, “What would you like me to de-prioritize?”

I would love it if every supervisor in the world read this book. Then we could really get a good conversation going about goal setting! Once I came to the realization that “only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” It completely changed how I look at setting goals. What do you think?

Setting Boundaries

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about boundaries, especially as people set their intentions for the New Year.

As a refresher, here are some healthy boundary reminders:

  • It is not your job to fix others.
  • It is okay if others get angry.
  • It is okay to say no.
  • It is not your job to take responsibility for others.
  • You do not have to anticipate the needs of others.
  • It is your job to make you happy.
  • No one has to agree with you.
  • You have a right to your own feelings.
  • You are enough, and don’t have to convince people that you are.

It took me a long time to learn that fourth one–not being responsible for others. As a social worker and family therapist, I think it’s common for those of us in the helping profession to feel like we have to do all the things for all the people. As it turns out, that’s not all that healthy, either for the person helping, or for the person being helped! (There’s a lovely poem by Shel Silverstein called “Helping.” It’s one of my favorites, and has adorned the wall in several of my offices over the years.)

do all the things

Here’s some of what boundaries are NOT:

  • Shutting everyone out, and not sharing any information or asking for help.
  • Not caring about the people you love.
  • Ignoring/avoiding your own feelings or concerns in order to “keep the peace.”
  • Rules by which you dictate the behavior of others.
  • A guarantee that everything will be perfect.

I like to use the analogy of a house. Rigid boundaries are a big stone wall miles away from the house. No one gets in, but nothing gets out, either. If there’s an emergency and you need help, no one can assist you without knocking down the wall. In contrast, diffuse boundaries are no barriers between your house and the outside world. Anything and anyone can get in or out. While that may seem fine if you need help, you also have to put up with people peering in your windows, and even potentially walking right into your house!

The ideal would be a fence with a gate. You get to choose what you let in and out. You can see what’s over the horizon, and prepare, if necessary. (One of the downsides to the big stone wall is that you can’t see what’s over the horizon until it’s right on top of you. So if there’s a tornado coming, you won’t be able to see and prepare for it until it has torn down your wall and is coming toward your house.)

If you feel like you need to work on healthy boundaries in your relationships, contact True North Counseling!

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197