In case you haven't been rewatching old seasons of Sex and the City while quarantined, allow me to refresh your memory: Whenever Miranda Hobbes, the queen of setting boundaries, is trying to get out of something, she says she has to go feed her cat. But when you're stuck inside your house with a month's supply of cat food, you can't help but wonder, how do you get out of responding to texts when you have no excuses? What would Miranda do?
If you thought getting out of IRL encounters was difficult, getting out of digital plans, when there is literally nothing else you could be doing, is nearly impossible.
"Now that you can’t white lie about having another engagement or not feeling well, you have the opportunity to increase your honesty-based skills and personal boundaries," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear" tells Bustle. "By creating digital boundaries, you're setting positive self-care standards rather than creating bad habits that may difficult to break in the long run."
So, the next time your old coworker asks you to catch up over FaceTime and you'd rather lie in bed watching TikTok videos, try one of these seven Miranda-approved texts.
1. Crack A Joke About The Commute
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly endless stream of texts and calls, try slowing down the conversation by making a joke about the traffic or how busy your TV-watching schedule is.
"Don't feel pressured to take every call or answer every text in two minutes," Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach tells Bustle. "Shoot a polite message explaining you will reach out later."
It's OK to take an hour, or day, or week to get back to someone, even when you aren't preoccupied with IRL engagements.
2. Tell Them You're Taking A Digital Detox
OK, yes — a "digital detox" sounds like something straight out of the Goop lab. But as Dr. Manly attests, coming clean about needing some "you time" is actually a great practice.
"As much as digital distractions are soothing, it’s important to set aside time for self-reflection and quiet," Dr. Manly says. "It’s completely fine, and actually healthy, to say, 'I’m exhausted. I’m taking a digital break."
Though it may feel intimidating to tell your bestie that you need some virtual space, Dr. Manly explains that expressing your needs during quarantine will help you honor your personal boundaries better even after social distancing.
3. Be Upfront With Your Prioritiies
Some nights, you'd rather watch Tiger King with your roommates than have a Zoom reunion (Zeunion?) with your college newspaper staff. Or maybe you'd rather masturbate than talk your sister through her relationship problems. Rather than half-listening or reluctantly responding to a text, Melamed says it's OK to prioritize your needs, even while quarantined.
"Practice the art of taking a moment for yourself without excuses, lies, or any other BS that betrays our boundaries," Melamed says.
Whether you crack a joke about taking selfies or tell them you're on a run, it's OK to let people know that you're doing something for you.
4. Come Clean About What You're Really Doing
While video chatting with your grandma or sanitizing your kitchen may sound like more valid excuses than, say, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or playing Farmville, you don't have to lie about why you need to take some space for yourself.
"Own the reasons why you can’t [talk] and don’t feel you have to justify them," Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching tells Bustle. "There’s nothing wrong with needing a nap."
5. Take The Time You Need
Just because you can FaceTime with your friends all day, doesn't mean you should. As Clinical Psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD., shares, it's healthy to create some psychological distancing as you keep your physical distance.
"Psychological distancing is not staying completely away from a person, but setting boundaries that give you and the other person the 'healthy space' to interact," Dr. Klapow tells Bustle.
If you need to go for a run around your neighborhood (read: walk to the kitchen to get more mini pretzels) or don't have the emotional bandwidth to FaceTime your super conservative aunt, it's OK to give yourself a little time.
6. Explain That You're Preserving Your Energy
"We need to preserve our energy and health in the best of times, but now it's more than ever it is vital," Melamed says.
If you know that talking to your mom will make you feel stressed out for the rest of the day or you need to put your group chat on mute for a while, Melamed notes the importance of knowing where you want to put your energy. You don't have to be there for everyone all the time, especially during a global pandemic.
7. Create A New Routine
Whether you go on a power walk before you make dinner or try to give yourself an hour without looking at your phone every day, creating some structure can help you establish your boundaries with others.
"Routines are important during this time to create a sense of normalcy and help you feel productive," Martinez says. "Setting boundaries gives you a chance to transition between your workday and your personal time."
Though your daily schedule may look super different right now, it can be helpful to find a rhythm that works for you. From blocking off a few hours each week for self-care to letting your cousin know you're trying to meditate, creating a routine can allow you to decide how and when you want to connect with others.
Though telling white lies about your plans may feel like a harmless (and easy) way out, being unapologetic about your boundaries can ensure your personal well-being — while social distancing and beyond.
Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD., Clinical Psychologist
Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach tells Bustle
Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching