10 Tips for Healthy Boundaries during the Holidays
by Kristin McCurdy, MA, LMHC
Give yourself permission to be the boss of your experiences. You are the boss of you. You get to say yes or no. You get to decide how long you want to stay. You get to decide when Aunt June is getting too political for your comfort level.
Notice and acknowledge your feelings. I notice I feel anxious every time I get on an airplane to go out of town and ‘back home’. I notice how sad I am when I miss my dad at our family gatherings since he passed. I notice how overwhelmed I feel when there are too many plans and not enough time (or vice versa). Notice. Pause. Breathe. Cry if that helps. Acknowledge your body’s way of telling you that you need to pay attention to.
Define what is acceptable and not acceptable for you. You know yourself best. Does eating stress you out? Big groups? Being single? Try to think about how you would like to navigate these subjects, plan ahead as best you can so that you are prepared in those moments.
Be Realistic. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Try to accept yourself and others for who they are. Confrontation is not usually a good thing to use the holiday season for. Try to avoid topics that incinerate conversations.
It’s OK to walk away. When things start to get a bit… hairy, stressful, heightened… you can walk away. You don’t have to explain yourself. Or you can calmly ask for a little bit of space. You can always come back later to follow up, or not.
Take care of yourself. Self Care. Define it. Carve out the time. Follow through. Repeat.
It’s OK to say NO. Practice saying NO. Often we want to say yes to lots of things this time of year, out of obligation, out of desire to connect, etc. Except, saying yes to too many things gets overwhelming pretty fast. Pause. Breathe. Then decide if you really can attend/ help out/ buy presents (etc), and then respond.
Process how it is working or how you would like it to work. Talk to your support people (the ones who lift you up, who LISTEN to you objectively) Journal about it. Seek professional help, we are here to help.
Be gentle with yourself as you define and maintain your own personal boundaries. Most of us do not do things perfectly the first time we do something. Keep at it. Learn what works for you. Be an example of how you would like to be treated, you give others the opportunity to do the same for the same for themselves. And remember, the more you practice something, the better you get at it.