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mw editorial

reclaim your holiday season by drawing boundaries

April 25, 2020

The holidays should be a time of relaxation, family bonding, and reflecting on the previous year, but for many people they are a time of great angst and dread due to stressful family interactions. Establishing healthy boundaries with loved ones in advance can reclaim the peace and joy that your holiday season may be missing.

Plan in Advance

The most effective way to handle tense circumstances is to prevent them from happening altogether. One way of doing this is to coordinate your social calendar, set your shopping budget, and make travel plans before the holidays begin. This way you are not forced to act out of guilt or impulse when the holidays arrive and family members start sharing their opinions with you.

Establish Expectations

After you decide what events you will be participating in, what gifts you will be purchasing, and when you will be traveling, it’s important to share this information with your family members. Letting them know what they can expect from you in advance will alleviate disappointment or stressful conversations before they happen. Your parents won’t have to ask if you’re staying until Tuesday if you’ve already booked your flight for Sunday and you told them before you got there.

Recognize Your Needs

It’s easy to get swept up in emotions during the holidays or be tempted to say “yes” to obligations that are unrealistic for your finances or health. To protect your mental and physical wellness all month long, don’t put yourself on the back burner. Pay attention to your feelings when you feel overwhelmed, tired, or spread too thin. You can’t show up as your best self or enjoy what little time you have with loved ones if you are constantly tired or frustrated. Say “no” when necessary, rest when you can, and don’t be afraid to gently but firmly stand up for yourself if someone is being overbearing. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I’d rather not discuss politics at the dinner table” and moving on.

Spending time with family over the holidays doesn’t have to make you break out in hives any longer. Simply planning in advance, sharing your plans with your loved ones, and paying attention to your personal needs can ensure that these holidays are the best ones yet!


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