6 Tips to Setting Holiday Boundaries So You Can Actually Enjoy Them

holiday desert, gathering at table

The holidays are a special time of year when family and friends come together to celebrate. For many people, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. They may also represent unique challenges when it comes to setting boundaries.

From office parties and gift exchanges to family gatherings and friend get-togethers, it can be hard to say no. Overcommitting yourself can lead to added stress and anxiety. To keep your holidays merry and bright, it’s important to set healthy boundaries.

Setting a boundary may mean saying no to an event you’re not interested in, setting a limit on how much you spend on gifts, or taking some time for yourself to recharge. By taking care of yourself and setting realistic expectations, you can enjoy the holiday season without letting the stress overwhelm you.

Here are six ways to help you set healthy holiday boundaries:

1. Set aside time to breathe

Holidays are a time when we often feel urged to spend time with family and friends, no matter how we’re feeling. By taking the time to reflect on what you need, you can more effectively communicate your needs to others. This may mean setting limits on how much time you spend with certain people or making plans in advance to ensure that you have some time to yourself.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to boundary-setting. What works for someone else may not work for you. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and others about what you need in order to enjoy the holidays.

The end of one year and the start of another is a time for reflection. We often use this time to consider our past choices and set resolutions for the future. However, reflection isn’t just something we should do once a year; it’s an important part of living a balanced life.

Every few weeks, take some time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What has been working well for you? What could use some improvement? By regularly reflecting on your needs, you can make small tweaks that will keep you in a state of inner zen all year long.

2. Clarify your wants/needs

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and fun. It can also be a time of stress and overwhelm. To make the most of the season, it’s important to set some boundaries.

By setting some simple boundaries, you can help make this holiday season more enjoyable for yourself and those around you.

3. Be somewhat flexible

As the holidays approach, it’s natural to start thinking about what we want. We may wish for a perfect family gathering, a relaxing vacation, or simply some time to ourselves. However, it’s important to remember that not all of our wishes are within our control.

Our energy isn’t boundless and tends to be stretched thin during this season. Prioritize what you can manage and practice surrendering what is beyond your control. For example, you may not be able to control how your family behaves, but you can control how you respond to them. You may not be able to make all of your holiday plans come true, but you can choose which ones are most important to you and let go of the rest. Learning to let go of what we can’t control is an essential part of finding peace during this busy season.

4. Create boundary scaffolding

In construction, scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support workers and materials during the construction or repair of a building. Scaffolding can also be used to create boundaries between work areas and the public.

When it comes to holiday wishes, it can be helpful to have some support. If you’re hoping to save money to buy a house, for example, you might need a budgeting app to help you track your spending, an accountability partner to keep you on track, or a real estate agent to help you find the perfect home. By taking some time to consider what you need, you can set yourself up for success. With the right support, anything is possible!

5. Speak your boundaries into existence

Although boundaries tend to be subjective, each and every boundary has a personal element to it. Yes, that’s right, even the boundaries you set with the person at the table trying to passive-aggressively comment on your plate and sticking their nose into your personal business has a personal component.

Even a well-meaning person cannot read your mind. If your boundaries haven’t been communicated during the boundary-design process, no one can grasp the importance of them. This can create a slippery slope. Loved ones don’t intend to be malicious and create an imbalance of power. A situation in which one person doesn’t feel like they can say “no” is unhealthy for everyone. We all have choices and can say no.

Boundaries are actually quite subjective, and they vary from person to person. What one person may consider to be an obvious boundary, another person may not even notice. They are dictated by our individual experiences, values, and beliefs. Because of this, it is important to communicate our boundaries to others.

By clearly communicating our needs and expectations to those we are close to, we are more likely to develop relationships that are based on mutual respect and support. In turn, these healthy relationships can provide us with the stability and fulfillment that we all crave. So even though it may not always be easy, establishing clear boundaries is always worth the effort.

6. Follow through with your boundaries

Knowing what is valuable to you opens the doorway for compassion through learning what is important to those around you. Boundary infractions are inevitable over time as contexts shift. There are elements beyond our control; however, an engaged process of reflecting and refining boundaries is an act of self-love and can better help you spread joy.

Avoid the set-it-and-forget-it approach to boundaries. Learn from your experiences and tweak your parameters.

When we take the time to design healthy boundaries for ourselves, it’s an act of self-love. It’s an investment in our well-being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By taking care of ourselves in this way, we’re also better able to take care of and spread joy to those around us. This holiday season, why not commit to creating a healthy boundary practice? You may just find that it’s one of the most valuable gifts you give yourself — and others.


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