Setting Healthy Boundaries This Holiday Season
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or at least it should be. The holidays are all about spending time with the ones you love. However, if you don’t have healthy boundaries, you’re setting yourself up for nothing but stress and unhappiness. Boundaries define who we are and who we aren’t. They teach people how to treat us. Without boundaries, you’re susceptible to how everyone else wants to treat you instead of what you require.
Boundaries are essential for friends, co-workers, partners, and family. It’s often hard to establish boundaries with people you’re close to, but if you want to enjoy the holiday season, it’s essential. Whether you’re wanting to end a particular holiday tradition or want your mother to stop telling everyone that embarrassing story from when you were a child, these tips can help you establish and enforce boundaries.
Understand the Benefits
Boundaries aren’t a bag thing. The term can sound scary or harsh until you consider what they really are. The purpose of setting boundaries is to ensure your mental and emotional stability. Think of boundaries as invisible lines crossed others must not cross. Lines designed for your protection and created by you, for your specific own needs. Boundaries not only help you create a healthy relationship with others, but also with yourself. Once you take that initiative to stand up for yourself, you’ll feel a great sense of relief and self-respect.
Decide What You Need
Take some time to carefully think about what triggers stress during the holiday season. It could be cleaning up all alone after a holiday dinner or that family member constantly asking why you’re not married yet. Maybe you don’t like certain comments made at the work Christmas party or you feel pressured to spend Christmas morning travelling when you really just want to stay home. Whatever your concerns are, decide which issues are the biggest threats to emotional well-being. Your list could be one or two things or a mile long. Boundaries are personal and there’s no limit to how many you decide to set.
Determine Your Approach
After deciding what boundaries you want to put in place, begin making them known. You can send a brief text or email if expressing the boundaries in person feels too uncomfortable. Remember, this is about making things less stressful for yourself, therefore nothing has to be explained face-to-face if that’s not what you want. The boundaries don’t need to be a lengthy explanation either.
Remain Calm and Avoid Blame
When you’re speaking to the people in your life, be direct. Stay calm and avoid placing any blame, even if you think it’s warranted. For instance, although you may want to say “I no longer want to host Christmas Eve dinner because it’s unfair I have to do all the cooking” instead you could say “I am willing to host Christmas eve dinner if we have a potluck instead. Cooking for everyone is a little much for me to take on nowadays.” You get the point across without making it seem like your guests don’t contribute. If you don’t tell people how you feel, they have no way of knowing.
If it’s the first time making a particular boundary known, it’s okay to cut them some slack since they may not be aware it’s even an issue. When it comes to enforcing the boundaries, it’s totally acceptable to be firm and assertive if someone isn’t respecting your boundaries.
No is a powerful word. It’s a complete sentence. No further explanation is needed if you don’t want to give one. You don’t have to agree with everything for the sake of keeping a holiday tradition alive. You aren’t obligated to attend every event or holiday party. Practice saying “no.” If you want to soften the blow, try using the word “unfortunately” to express empathy. A response like “Unfortunately, we won’t be able to attend your party this year” makes it clear you won’t be attending, but you’re regretful you couldn’t make it.