Setting workplace boundaries

As an autistic person, setting boundaries at work is not just a matter of personal preference; it’s a vital part of maintaining my mental health and preventing burnout. While I’ve grown more confident in advocating for myself, this has been a gradual process.

Even now, I sometimes question my needs, especially when I see colleagues who seem to handle everything effortlessly. However, I’ve come to understand that what might seem like small adjustments can have a significant impact on my well-being. For me, it isn’t about the big  “formal” adjustments – those feel much more clear cut and easy to maintain. Instead it is the everyday details that, if overlooked, can quickly build up and become overwhelming.

Why boundaries matter

These boundaries are needs, not preferences.

For me, maintaining clear and consistent boundaries helps me navigate my work and reduces my stress. It has taken time to build up the confidence to advocate for myself. Seeing others cope seemingly well with various challenges sometimes makes me doubt myself and my needs. But these little things, which might seem minor in isolation, build up rapidly if left unchecked. They can be easy to dismiss in the moment because I sometimes feel like I am making a fuss or inconveniencing someone else. But recognising their importance has been a game-changer for my mental health.

How I set boundaries

A lot of this has come through trial-and-error. Discussing something with my manager and testing it out, or just trying things myself. As well as that, I worked with a workplace coach (funded via Access to Work) and that has helped me a great deal. That experience was invaluable in helping me appreciate the impact of seemingly small adjustments. I’ll write more about my expe