“You get what you tolerate.”
— Henry Cloud
THIS QUICK GUIDE TO HEALTHY HOLIDAY BOUNDARIES CAN HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED AND TRUE TO YOURSELF.
Healthy boundaries can be challenging to navigate, but setting and communicating them is important for your health and wellbeing. They create a clear framework that tells others how to treat you and sets mutually respectful expectations about how your relationship works.
The holiday season can easily add extra challenges to enforcing your personal boundaries. There are family gatherings, social events, financial pressures, more alcohol, more food, less sleep. These added commitments can also throw you off your normal routine of exercise, sleep, healthy eating, and other positive coping activities.
Problems often occur when you start to put someone else’s needs before your own. Remember: your wants and needs are valid and important. Not speaking up about how you want to spend the holidays or which social occasions you want to attend can lead to feelings of mistreatment or disrespect that can cause resentments. It becomes all too easy to make excuses for others or to stretch your boundaries “because it’s the holidays”. You may place unfair blame or pressure on yourself out of fear of “ruining” a special occasion with an argument. Don’t let the holidays become an excuse to slip into unhealthy relationship patterns.
HERE ARE FIVE TIPS IN SETTING HEALTHY HOLIDAY BOUNDARIES
- Create a Holiday Vision.
The first step in creating healthy holiday boundaries is to decide what is it that you want to happen during the holidays. If you were creating your ideal holiday what do you see yourself doing? Share your vision with your loved ones. Collaborate with them to find a way to incorporate everyone’s holiday visions.
- Start Simplifying.
Sit down and ask yourself: “What boundaries can I set that won’t negatively affect the holiday and will keep me from exhausting myself? What are some things that left me overwhelmed last year? What tasks can I get rid of, leave out, delegate, or pay someone else to do?”
- Set Your Healthy Boundaries.
If you feel something is just too much or you really do not want to participate in something, it is ok to politely say no. Remember that “No” is a full sentence. You do not have to explain yourself if you don’t want to. You can suggest alternatives that will work better for you or just leave it at “no”. This can be hard because you may not want to disappoint others but ultimately you really need to do what is best for you and your emotional and physical health. If you are concerned about hurting feelings, you can say something positive and express your appreciation of the offer so your “no” does not come off as a rejection.
- Remind Yourself Why You Need to Enforce Your Boundaries.
Ask yourself: “What are the emotional, physical, and relationship costs of trying to live up to others’ expectations? What are the costs of trying to live up to my own unfair expectations? Are these costs really worth it? Are they necessary?”
- Counter Any Guilt With Affirmations.
“They may be disappointed if I don’t [attend this party] but it’s better than overextending myself, feeling resentful, or being irritable.”
“Setting healthy, respectful boundaries will not ruin the holidays.”
“It is not entirely up to me to make the holidays merry for everyone else.”
“If I explain why I am choosing to enforce my boundaries, they’ll probably understand.”
“I know that I’ve always [cooked Christmas dinner], but sometimes things change, and we can start new traditions.”
“When I don’t enforce my boundaries I become irritable and unpleasant. These boundaries are needed for everybody to enjoy the holidays.”
“Their [anger] is unfortunate and I wish they felt differently, but it’s ok. They’ll get over it.”
I HOPE YOU HAVE A HAPPY AND STRESS-FREE HOLIDAY SEASON!
Jessica Singh, MSW, RCSWI is a mental health therapist in private practice in Vero Beach, Fl. She specializes in helping adolescents and young adults heal from trauma, eating disorders, depression, stress, and overwhelm. Jessica strives to provide a safe and comfortable environment for her clients to express themselves without fear of judgment. Learn more Jessica here.