Setting Boundaries During The Holidays

I love the holiday season – festive gatherings with family and friends, the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers, decadent food and drinks, and all of the lights and colors. But it’s also an emotional time for me. I remember holidays past, and family members and friends who are no longer with me. I think about goals that I set out to accomplish but they have not yet come to fruition. I was asked recently to recount some of my favorite holiday traditions, and was a bit caught off guard – I have had various family traditions throughout each ‘chapter’ of my life, as my life situations have changed through the years. I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinners for 18 people, but I’ve also made tacos for 4 on another turkey day. I have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas, and some not-so-wonderful times that I spent alone. Holidays can be very emotional, stressful, and exhausting. The key is to find balance and to set boundaries on your time and energy, and to prioritize self care during this time of year. When we refuse to set a boundary, we prioritize other people’s comfort over our own needs.

Protecting our emotions as well as our time is critical. Do you have a friend or family member that always seems to dominate the conversation or bring up controversial topics at dinner? Or maybe a coworker that is constantly complaining and has a negative attitude? It may be time to set some boundaries on how much interaction we have with these people. Or maybe it’s time to cut someone out altogether if they are constantly exuding toxic energy. If you have a family member or colleague that wants to drum up a conversation with you on something you’re not ready to share or don’t want to discuss, try asking them something about themselves. You can even say “I’m not comfortable discussing that at this time. How is your job/hobby/interest going? Another thing you can do is to walk away. If others’ conversations make you uncomfortable, simply excuse yourself and spend some quiet time alone in another room. You may also be overwhelmed with party invitations, hosting obligations, and frantic shopping. Remember it’s ok to say no – commit to events that are truly important to you. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t attend every work party or happy hour with friends. Make a point to use stress management techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation to keep calm and carry on.

Remember to have an attitude of gratitude and appreciation. No matter what your circumstances are, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Try writing down everything you DID accomplish this year, which will inspire you to do even more in the future. Volunteer at your local food pantry or homeless shelter and feel how good it is to share the love within your community. Call a friend or family member that lives far away and let them know you’re thinking about them during this season. Try to maintain your workout and clean eating routine (I know – there will be a LOT of temptation out there!), but don’t beat yourself up over the second piece of pumpkin pie.

I wish all of you a healthy and happy holiday season! Be Well ❤️

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