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5 Ways to Manage Your Boundaries for a Happier Holiday Season

Posted by Puglisi Counseling on November 29, 2022
5 Ways to Manage Your Boundaries for a Happier Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a time of love, laughter, joy and good cheer. But, it can also quite the opposite for many. Sometimes the holidays are a time of overwhelming dread that can lead to significant anxiety and depression. During this time, we have a tendency to overextend ourselves – between social commitments, family gatherings, additional expenses, cooking and cleaning, we leave little time for self-care and often are quick to just say yes to everyone who needs us. When we are too accommodating or overextending ourselves, we usually leave the possibility of resenting the ones we are also trying to support and love.

Boundaries are necessary for us to ensure that we have a joyful, peaceful, and cheerful holiday season.

Follow these 5 tips towards securing boundaries this holiday season

  1. Identify your needs. In order to be effective in enforcing healthy boundaries, we need to know ourselves enough to have a good understanding of our feelings, our limits, our triggers and what is needed to remain happy and less stressed. Become aware of your ability to recharge and ensure you are fulfilling those needs.
  2. Recognize that it is okay to say no. We can easily find ourselves during the holiday season looking to try to please everyone, but the reality is that we just cannot do it. If you find yourself overextending during the holidays and you’re afraid to disappoint others, clearly communicate ahead of time what you can and cannot do. Remember your limits and recognize the need to put you first. You do not need to have a good reason to say no this holiday season and just because you’ve always did something in the past does not mean you have to keep doing it. Ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy to do? If I do this, will I be filling my cup or leaving myself empty and drained?” It’s okay not to be able to make it to every gathering. Remember one important thing: No is a complete statement and you do not always have to explain yourself.
  3. Know your limits and make smaller commitments. Are you the type to always host and handle all of the holiday party responsibilities? This is a great place to start setting boundaries. Instead of offering to take on all of the responsibilities, ask others to take on tasks or contribute more this year. You can even continue to host, but then make it a potluck or ask your guests to bring specific dishes. You’ll significantly reduce your work load leaving you more time to enjoy your gathering rather than feeling burdened by doing it all.
  4. Keep the conversations light. Family gatherings or social events can be a minefield of emotions and difficult topics. Add in alcohol and holiday stress and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Disagreements can turn out of control really fast. When conversations start to feel like it may be turning negative, disengage from the conversation and set the topic to something else. If someone brings up a topic that you know may cause further complications, instead of responding, just listen and then move back on to other topics that everyone will be more inclined to discuss without difficulty like talking about gratitude for each other or highlights of the event.
  5. Understanding the parts of boundaries What part is yours? What part is not yours? When we enforce boundaries, there are going to be parts that belong to you and then the part that belongs to someone else. Take for example you set a boundary that you will be leaving a social event or family gathering at a specific time. When you decide to leave at that time, someone gets upset at your early departure. It’s important to recognize that the only part that belongs to you is your decision to leave at the time you specified. You hold no responsibility in how someone else may feel and you most certainly do not need to fix their disappointment if it violates your boundaries. When we compromise on our boundaries, we often leave room for others to continue to push the limits we set which can ultimately leave us feeling worse. So, it’s imperative to stand firm when developing and enforcing necessary boundaries. 

Remember that you hold the power over what you will and will not accept this holiday season. So this season, try to remain in the moment and in touch with your inner joy. Stay connected and aware to your specific needs and recognize your limits.

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