How do we kindly create healthy boundaries during the Holiday season? It’s not an easy task. Yet, honoring our limits helps us to take better care of ourselves and supports our relationships with loved ones. Overall, your Holiday season with your family will be more joyful if you remember to set and enforce your boundaries.
In order to ensure your holidays are as enjoyable as possible, you need to first consider what it is about the Holidays that causes stress or upsets you. Once you do, you can begin figuring out how to set boundaries with family and learn tactics you can use to navigate the holidays smoothly.
According to a Healthline survey, 44% of people say that they are stressed during the holidays. A common trigger for this anxiety is family gatherings. These are a few things you may experience:
Do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, please consider these suggestions for how you can create and maintain boundaries during the holiday season.
Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries During Family Gatherings
1. Speak to Your Family Ahead of Time About Controversial Conversations
Most people know that discussing topics like politics and religion at family gatherings is not the best choice. But some family members can't seem to help themselves. This usually creates uncomfortable or angry feelings. This year, consider having a family meeting in advance to get ahead of any tough topics, especially if you experienced conflict during your last time together.
Try this: I feel uncomfortable when you talk about politics or religion over the Holiday dinner because it creates an atmosphere of tension. Let’s talk about something else so we can enjoy one another's company.
2. Set Aside Time for Yourself for Self-Care
It's perfectly okay (and necessary) to take a break to relax and recharge. Even when you absolutely love spending time with your family the constant activity can feel overwhelming. Take time to practice a mindfulness exercise, go for a walk, or take a short nap. Even a 20 to 30 minute break can make a big difference in your day. Even if you are the one hosting, it's okay to ask for help so you can get a much needed break.
Try this: I feel a bit overwhelmed because I’m used to having time to myself at home. I'm going to take a short break then I'll be back to celebrate with you.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Say How You Feel
If a family member is prying for information or crossing the line with their teasing, then it's time to stand up for yourself. Set a clear boundary by stating how you feel and why. Make sure to stick to the facts and don’t accuse them of being rude or disrespectful. They may not realize that's the case. Stating your feelings creates a space for someone to hear their impact on you without causing unwanted conflict. Remember you should only share what you feel comfortable sharing.
Try this: You know, Aunt Grace, I feel uncomfortable when you ask when I will have kids. Let's talk about ...(mention her hobbies or something she's interested in).
4. Plan Your Reaction to Negative Comments
If there is a family member who is consistently harsh or critical then it's important to set clear boundaries. Try your best not to share personal information with that person and don't get into a situation where you're left alone with them. If they do make negative comments, remember not to take it personally. Their negativity is not a representation of you and your life.
Try this: Surround yourself with people you get along with and family members who are there to enjoy time together.
Enjoy The Holidays with Your Family
Creating and honoring your boundaries can help you to enjoy the holidays with your family. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to share with a mental health professional. We can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to change them. If you would like to speak with a professional, please reach out to schedule an appointment.
As a therapist, Jorie Miklos enjoys helping people reach a level of personal happiness and satisfaction that they didn’t think was possible.
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