The holidays are a time for joy, love, and connection. But they can also be a time of stress, unrealistic expectations, and overcommitment. That's why it's so important to set healthy boundaries during this festive season. By doing so, you can protect your physical and mental health and nurture your relationships in a way that feels good for everyone involved. Here are some tips for setting healthy boundaries this holiday season.
1. Be clear about your wants and needs.
The first step to setting any kind of boundary is to get clear with yourself on what you want and need. This can be difficult to do during the holidays when there are so many demands on your time and energy. But if you can take a step back and get in touch with your own needs, you'll be much better equipped to set boundaries that work for you. Maybe you want to spend less time with acquaintances and more time with your close friends and family. Maybe you want to only engage in meaningful gift-giving rather than obligatory gifting. Maybe you want to have more time alone between social activities. Maybe you want to have fun without blowing your budget. Get clear on these things now. This might also involve blocking time off on your calendar for self-care… and sticking to it!
2. Communicate your boundaries clearly and directly.
Once you know what your boundaries are, the next step is to communicate them clearly, directly, and lovingly to the people in your life. This can be challenging, especially if you're afraid of disappointing others or coming across as ungrateful. But it's important to remember that you have a right to say no—and that the people in your life will respect you more for being honest about your needs. Remember, boundaries are NOT meant to be barriers to having positive relationships. They’re meant to enhance relationships by establishing a healthy understanding of what is and isn’t a problem for both parties. Here's a tip: when communicating a boundary, try starting from a shared goal, such as "we both want family Hannukah to be fun for everyone involved. I've been thinking about something that would really help make sure that happens...."
3. Be prepared to enforce your boundaries.
It's one thing to set a boundary; it's another thing entirely to follow through on it. So, if you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no, don't beat yourself up—just gently remind yourself of your boundary and move on. It takes practice to learn how to enforce our own boundaries, but it's so worth it in terms of our physical and mental health.
This holiday season, make things a little easier on yourself by setting some healthy boundaries. By getting clear on your wants and needs, communicating directly (and lovingly!) with the people in your life, and being prepared to follow through on your boundaries, you can protect your physical and mental health while still enjoying all the best parts of the holiday season.
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Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.