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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Fox

Boundaries During the Holidays

Do you find yourself making those comments year after year? “I just have to get through the holidays.” “Once the holidays are over, I’ll be fine.” What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? What if there was a way to be present and enjoy time spent with loved ones? It all comes down to one word, boundaries. We often hear that word thrown around, but what does it mean to set boundaries? Did you know that there are different types of boundaries? It goes further than just saying no. It’s about protecting your emotional well-being and mental health. Boundaries can look different for everyone and are unique to you!

Here are examples of different types of boundaries as they relate to the holiday season.


TIME BOUNDARIES

Time boundaries refer to how to spend your time, both alone and with others. The holiday season can cause chaos and busy schedules for most. Many stretch themselves thin trying to be everywhere all at once. Multiple family, friend, and work parties can cause you to lose sight of where YOU want to spend your time. Take a look at where you are being asked to be, prioritize what is important to you, and make time for the events and places where you will be happy. Setting time boundaries also involves increasing self-care and alone time to recharge. Routine is always important, but it is even more crucial during stressful times. It may be helpful to set aside a time each night to have to yourself. That may involve watching your comfort show, reading a good book, or working on an art project. Remember self-care does not have to be time consuming. Keep it simple and attainable.


EMOTIONAL BOUNDARIES

Emotional boundaries are all about your feelings and protecting your overall emotional well-being. Emotional boundaries can be violated when someone talks down to you, belittles you, or invalidates how you feel. The holidays can cause high stress and may put you in more vulnerable situations. Protect your emotional well-being by setting boundaries in triggering situations, such as uncomfortable conversations. Know when to walk away and not engage when you are feeling triggered or invalidated in conversations this holiday season.


MATERIAL AND FINANCIAL BOUNDARIES

Material and financial boundaries can be overlooked during the holiday season. You may have a growing list of people to buy for and may feel pressure to spend outside of your budget. Ask your family about setting spending limits, doing secret Santa, or just buying for the children in the family. By speaking up, you may even help other family members who are struggling financially.


As you set boundaries this holiday season, keep in mind it is normal to experience pushback from those on the receiving end. You may miss a gathering or not spend as much time somewhere and that is okay. You can still actively participate in holiday traditions and gatherings while maintaining your boundaries. Remember that boundaries are in place to protect you and your peace. If saying yes to them means saying no to you, then you have your answer. The holiday season is meant to be merry and bright, do not allow others to disrupt that or cause stress.


By: Stephanie Fox

LCSW


Photo Credit: Liubomyr Vorona/iStock / Getty Images Plus

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