With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the winter holiday season quickly approaching, we love to remind people about the importance of setting boundaries so that you can have the most enjoyable holiday season with your family, friends, or whoever you choose to celebrate with.
There are different types of boundaries we'll be exploring today. Some of these boundaries are personal, while the others are related to family members. We hope you'll be able to implement whatever boundaries feel right for you this holiday season!
Saying "No" During the Holidays
Holidays bring out the "yes" people, and even if you aren't typically a "yes" person, you might find yourself molding in that type of person around the holidays. It's the spirit of giving, so why not give all our time, energy, resources, emotional capacity, sleep, etc?! (That's what our brains tend to think, but let's talk about a different way to go about this.)
We can't be in all places at all times for all people, even if we might want to! Saying no isn't a negative thing. Saying no gives us the ability to protect our peace and the resources we have to offer. Because everyone's limit is different, you know yourself best to know when you're starting to push your limits. If you find yourself getting tired, sick, or having an irritable mood, it might be a good indicator to start evaluating what you've said yes to and what you might need to say no to. You'll be a healthier person for it!
Balancing Family Traditions
Family traditions around the holiday seasons can cause families to feel like they have to be in a million different places at once. It can be especially challenging if you or your partner have a challenging relationship with your family or your partner's family. Supporting your partner is important, but so is protecting your peace around the holidays.
Supporting your partner is paramount, so if they want to see their family over the holidays and you don't really feel like seeing them, it's important that you dig deep and go with your partner anyway. Find something during that time to distract you, whether that's talking to one safe person there the entire time or playing with children. Remember, it'll only be for a few hours. You can do anything for a few hours! And there are boundaries you can set in place while there, such as not talking about certain topics or choosing to get a hotel room if you need to stay overnight.
Ultimately, you get to decide how you want to celebrate the holiday seasons, so make sure you include your partner in that discussion.
When we show up for our partner in this way, we're showing them that when it comes to them seeing their family, they call the shots and we'll be right beside them every step of the way. And vice versa! An aspect of a healthy partnership looks like supporting our partner when they want to see their family.
Creating Personal Space in Conversations
Holidays seem to bring out all the controversial topics, and sometimes, people need yearly reminders that certain topics are off limits for you. Before going to a family or friend gathering, establish with yourself what topics you're not willing to discuss. If someone brings up that topic, come prepared with a few sentences that can stop the topic in its tracks, like "I actually don't want to talk about that. Tell me what you've been up to this year that's made you really proud!" Stopping the conversation about the topic you're not wanting to talk about while also redirecting it back towards the person for them to talk about themselves is a great way to enforce your boundary with compassion.
If you're an introvert, you might need physical personal space from people around the holidays to rest and rejuvenate. There is no shame in needing to take space from people. If you're at an all day holiday family gathering and you're noticing your tank starting to empty, feel free to take a walk by yourself or sit in the bathroom or a nearby bedroom for a few minutes. Listen to music or watch an episode of your favorite sitcom on your phone. Meditation is also a great option. Do whatever you need to do to rest and recharge.
Digital Detox for the Holidays
The holiday season can be a great time for many to unplug from social media. We live the majority of our lives immersed in technology that maybe we forget the life that's happening all around us. Remember, social media isn't real life; it's typically a highlight reel.
Because the winter months are typically more gloomy in the United States, we might find our mental health taking a hit. Social media can have a negative affect on mental health, so it isn't a bad idea to log off for the season, or maybe set some boundaries with our social media usage. This can be done by setting a timer for specific apps, or having apps "turn off" at a certain time of day.
Social media is a fantastic way for us to stay connected to the world and the people we love, but it comes with its consequences for our mental health. Learning how to balance the use of social media, especially around the holidays, can help us make the most out of it while also keeping us in the present, helping us remain mindful, and creating good habits for our mental health.
However you're celebrating the holiday season this year, we hope you remember that in order to show up well for others, we first have to show up for ourselves. We can show up for ourselves by setting boundaries with our "yes", family traditions, space, and use of social media. Boundaries are essential to having healthy relationships with others.
At Root Counseling, we help clients learn and establish healthy boundaries, which can enhance their relationships with themselves and others. If you're interested in scheduling a session with one of our therapists, you can learn more about us here.