Holiday Boundary-setting Mantra

I’m afraid that’s not possible right now.
— A Dear Friend

The holiday season is one time of year that leaves many of us feeling vulnerable to stress and feelings of overwhelm. The season brings windows dressed with cheer and reminders of other people who appear carefree and happy, while many face the reality of family dysfunction, unrealistic expectations, loneliness, dark days and seasonal affective disorder, poor eating and drinking habits and loved ones who are no longer with us. Social media now contributes a new platform for us to compare our own lives with the experiences of others leading to even more isolation and despair. It is also a time when we may do less self-care than usual--at a time when we actually need a little more TLC. Which brings us to boundaries. It's a good time to learn and practice self-protection. Boundary-setting is very much a learned skill that takes practice and often permission. First, it's important to know your needs and to identify your own physical and emotional limits. Overload cues present to us in different forms. For some, it's a feeling or nudge of what "feels" right or wrong, while others may experience actual physical symptoms such as pain or tension in the body. Tuning-in to "what's happening" with our thoughts and body is key. What follows are some helpful tips to assist you with learning to set boundaries for yourself during this long season of holiday demands.

  • Practice tuning-in to feelings and emotions that you typically deny
  • Notice when/if you begin to have feelings of resentment or feel drained by situations or interactions with others
  • Identify important limits before you feel stressed or angry
  • Learn to be clear, direct and assertive with others and notice what this brings up for you
  • Prioritize self-care even if they are small acts of self-kindness
  • Know your triggers and past especially as people tend to fall into familiar roles with family and when stressed
  • Ask for help or support from someone who is better at setting limits than you 
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" and begin with small steps if this is a new skill for you
  • Use this mantra: "I'm afraid that's not possible right now."

When you take care of yourself by learning to set healthy boundaries you actually create a path for a fuller and more satisfying life.