Have you managed to set some healthy boundaries for the holidays?
The holidays are a joyous time. We start putting up the decorations, setting up travel plans to see loved ones, and with the seasonal festivities ensuing, you may become flooded with warm feelings of excitement and joy.
But let’s admit that they’re also a period filled with anxiety and loaded with grief. The holiday season can come with a bit of concern for many people who gather with family members with whom their relationship is prone to tension.
Anticipating issues of relationship conflicts and handling them productively can be difficult, but with some holiday boundaries in place, you can enjoy your festivities worry-free.
While it’s entirely typical to experience different feelings and emotions around this time, knowing how to deal accordingly is essential. Common problems related to different family dynamics will likely emerge.
So it’s important to remember that you’re allowed to have set boundaries in place to protect you from any potentially triggering issues. Let’s go through some examples of holiday boundaries to get you ready for that beautiful festive season.
Envision Your Ideal Holiday Season
Seems easy enough, right? Setting down an initial outline is where you MUST start. As you begin to string together bits and pieces of how you’d like your holiday to turn out, you might start noticing that support can be valuable in this process.
What materials or equipment will you need? Will you be needing helpers? Like any other big event, a key tactic to build a strong boundary is to think about what you need to make that boundary feasible. Do you wish to host a dinner at some point?
Or maybe you have a tradition that’s special to you that you want to be incorporated into the festivities. Perhaps there’s a specific food that’s important to you? Write everything down. Compromise is the name of this game.
So thinking long and hard about what’s vital and what’s up for negotiation is imperative. You may want to be home on Christmas morning and have breakfast with your family while you open presents.
You MAY be open to having overnight visitors, but you should really insist on making this happen if it’s important to you.
Examine Your Wishlist
Remember making a wishlist for Santa when you were little? We took time to think about what gifts we wanted, and our next “setting boundaries” tip is something similar to that. REALLY reflect on what you want. It’s worthwhile to define your wishes.
If you already know what you wish for, grab a pen and a journal. Give this exercise a shot: Draw a medium size circle in the center of the paper. Begin the process of brainstorming your hopes for the season and write those inside the circle.
Also, take the time to analyze the opposite, what you hope to avoid this holiday, and write those on the outside of the circle. Do you notice a theme happening?
At first glance, balancing what’s on the inside and the outside of the circle is what shapes the foundation for your holiday boundaries! You can either finish this in one sitting or allow yourself the time to ponder and allow your wishes to surface over a day or two.
And if it’s meaningful to you to spend this holiday season with a few loved ones, it might be beneficial to do this activity together.
Anticipate Your Mental Health Needs
Let’s say your partner’s family is flying into town to stay with you over the holidays. Think about how this will affect your mental health before they come, and plan accordingly.
For example, evaluate how long you have the ability to entertain them and share the same space as them. Decide whether you would prefer to host them or if you should rent a hotel room for them.
Another very important thing to think about is to remember which issues have come up in the past that have triggered you and be prepared to have some boundaries in place in case it happens again.
There’s so much to ponder over during the holidays as we prepare ourselves to see people who we might not have been in close proximity to for quite some time.
It’s vital to remember that boundaries need to be communicated, and sometimes you’ll have to voice your boundary a couple of times to get the message across.
Manage And Surrender
Some of the things you wish to achieve will be within your control, while others won’t. Our power isn’t infinite, and it’s likely to be stretched thin during the holidays.
To help find your balance and create healthier boundaries, it can be worthwhile to prioritize what you can control and practice sacrificing what is beyond your control.
You might find it practical to return to the circle activity we mentioned and place a star next to the things you CAN handle and possibly even two next to the ones that are top-priority and achievable.
And before you quickly write off the ones beyond your control, see if you can pull the intention of that wish to find a more manageable element. For instance, if you were to put a million dollars inside your circle, would you be able to find the core intention?
Perhaps it would be saving up some more money, maintaining your budget, or even applying for a new job.
Don’t Forget That You’re Not Alone…Include Your Significant Other
This is an obvious tip. Speak with your partner. And when we say partner, we mean anyone you’d consider your holiday companion, be it a partner, parent, sibling, or friend. If you’re in the middle of a conflict, don’t close yourself off. A unified front is significant.
It reduces any potential confusion, and it makes your opinion more assertive when you both support it. It’s also just great to know what they need or would want in order to have a lovely holiday.
It might even be something as simple as a signal for when one of you needs to step away to get some air. It would also come in handy to know when it’s time to shift the conversation away from a topic that stresses one of you out.
Make sure to talk about these things beforehand, and things will go a lot smoother. We’re sure of it!
Vocalize Your Boundaries
Boundaries tend to be based on emotion. So something that IS a constant is that each and every boundary has a personal element to it.
Yes, even if we’re talking about the boundaries with that one confrontational cousin at the table trying to comment on your plate and sticking their nose into your business, have a personal component.
We wish to emphasize this because frequently, in the boundary-placing process, we have a general idea in mind of the boundary we want to set in place and decide that we don’t need to communicate them to the other person or persons.
While there are undoubtedly times this is valid, it’s the subtle neglect of abandoning your feelings at the personal level that often causes a slippery slope. For each holiday boundary you wish to set in place, ask yourself these questions:
- Why is this so boundary important to me?
- What would it be like if this boundary was disobeyed?
- How can I go about setting this boundary in place?
- How can I remedy the situation if someone defies my boundaries?
- What self-care can I practice when my boundary is ignored?
At the end of the day, we’ve only given you a few examples of the ways you can use boundaries to ensure your holidays go smoothly. It’s up to you to choose the ones that work best for you.
How have your holiday experiences been? Do you think setting a few boundaries in place will help you get through the season? Be sure to let us know how you feel in the comments section.
And if you found this article helpful, we also recommend reading: Adapting to Change: 5 Fearless Ways to Do It