Create Healthy Holiday Boundaries

It’s no secret the holidays can be a stressful time of year. Bringing your family together often brings joy and excitement along with unresolved or hurt feelings. Stir that together with the anxiety you may get trying to throw the perfect dinner party and fitting the must-have gift in your budget, and the holidays can start to feel like a mine field of emotions.

Navigating the holiday season without stress becomes much easier when you identify and implement boundaries for yourself, your family, and your friends. Creating healthy boundaries doesn’t have to be complicated or confrontational. Simply follow these tips and you’ll find yourself on your way to a less-stressed holiday.

Make your plans early
Some years it’s impossible to visit with everyone, and deciding which side of the family you visit or which friends to see can cause conflict between you and your significant other and your respective families. Instead of waiting until last minute to decide where you’ll be spending the holiday, begin planning early. Explain to your family why you will or will not be seeing them and keep track of your decision. Next year, make sure you give your time and presence to those you missed this year. No one likes being separated from their loved ones during this time of year, but if they understand how you’ve made your decision and see that you are splitting your time fairly from year-to-year, it’s less likely to hurt feelings or cause arguments.

Don’t over commit
Practice saying, “That sounds nice, but I will have to think about it and get back you.” The holidays are filled with invitations to parties, gift exchanges, and charitable events. You may want to participate in all of them, but chances are once you’ve committed to too many, you will experience more stress than enjoyment. Get comfortable with saying maybe. Let friends and family know you think their offer sounds enticing, but you will need time to decide if you are able to join in the fun. You know yourself best. Decide how many gift exchanges your budget can handle and how many parties you prefer to attend. When you’ve hit your limit say, “No thanks.”

The holidays are about community and togetherness. Putting a couple simple boundaries in place will ensure you are able to enjoy them and spread that joy to others.

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