The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness often filled with a flurry of events, parties, and gatherings. While these can be enjoyable, this time can also be a period filled with stress, overwhelm, and a blur of obligations. One key aspect of maintaining mental and emotional well-being during this time is establishing and maintaining boundaries. In this blog, we will explore the importance of setting boundaries during the holidays and provide some practical tips on how to do so effectively.
Essential Ingredients for Effective Boundaries
Identify where you need to set a boundary.
It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly where we need to establish boundaries, but reflecting on our feelings and needs can help. Perhaps it’s with a friend who consistently crosses the line and disrespects our boundaries or maybe it’s with a family member constantly commenting negatively or asking intrusive questions.
Tell the other person what you are going to do, not what they should do.
Be open, honest, and clearly express your needs and limitations. This will help manage expectations and reduce potential misunderstandings. Learn to say no! It’s tempting to say yes to every invitation or request during the holidays, but it’s essential to recognize your limits. Politely decline invitations or requests that may stretch you thin and lead to burnout. You’re only in control of what you do. Make plans to troubleshoot any anticipatory/predictable resistance/reactions and incorporate this information into your plan.
Be firm but dispassionate, clear and concise both when boundaries are established and when being enforced.
Introduce limits at neutral times and then calmly. No tone, no struggle, no explaining. Minimal effort. Make sure that your actions match your words.
Make it about you and your limits — NOT about them or what’s best for them.
Stay in your own lane. This works because it’s argument-proof and can’t be refuted.
Offer up that you could be wrong.
Making it about your opinion or simply what you’re comfortable with or not puts you in charge without imposing anything.Allowing the other person to hold onto their viewpoint prevents a control struggle and remains respectful.
Be open to compromise and negotiation when necessary
There will be moments when you’ll need to compromise or negotiate for the betterment of yourself or even others around you. While it may seem like a sign of weakness to some, it’s actually a sign of strength and adaptability. Refusing to compromise or negotiate can lead to unnecessary conflict and even failure. Remember, compromise doesn’t always mean losing; it can also mean finding a common ground that benefits all parties involved.
Execution of a Boundary
when you/this situation__________________,
Examples of Boundary and Go To Phrases
I feel hurt and judged when you make comments about my body, because I’m trying my best to build confidence in myself and my body. I need you to stop making comments like ______________. If you continue to do so, we will _____________________(fill in the blank with your appropriate boundary).
“I can’t do that, but I can help you find someone who can”
“I can’t take on additional responsibilities right now”
“I can’t do ____, but I’m open to trying ____”
“I’m allowed to change my mind”
“If you continue to ____, I’m going to end this conversation”
Results May Vary
Family dynamics can be complex and boundaries can likely activate someone’s deepest worries and insecurities and so responses will vary. Furthermore, it is very common to feel guilty when receiving uncomfortable and/or unexpected responses to the boundary set. Please remember, this is not your fault. It can be helpful to acknowledge that the boundary is difficult to hear or offer alternatives to the behavior or situation you are setting your boundary around. Stand firm in your decisions while expressing your love and commitment to the relationship. Understand that it’s okay to say no to certain engagements if they negatively impact your well-being. It is helpful to approach these conversations with realistic expectations of how the person will respond to the boundary being set.
Building a healthy practice of boundary setting is a growth process that is both difficult and courageous. Remember to extend yourself kindness and grace as you practice your boundary setting skills. Your willingness to set boundaries is providing you with an opportunity to spend this holiday season feeling more loved, respected, and balanced. Taking care of yourself allows you to be more present and giving in the long run; it’s an essential component of a happy and fulfilling holiday season.
About The Author: Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with over eight years of experience in the mental health field. Jessica is very passionate about working with individuals impacted by trauma (acute, chronic, developmental, relational, and complex). Her focus is tailored to meet clients where they are at while providing trauma informed care to help them surthrive. Jessica also serves as clinical director and oversees the clinical operations as well as helps to guide our team of therapists, ensuring the delivery of high-quality and evidence-based therapeutic services to RWCS community.