-Sharon Martin, LCSW
Healthy boundaries are important all year long.
Healthy boundaries create a framework that let’s people know how to treat you. They help create respectful, mutual relationships because expectations are clear. The biggest boundary problems occur when you put someone else’s needs before your own and allow yourself to be mistreated or devalued.
The holidays add some extra challenges when it comes to healthy boundaries. As you know, the holiday season means more social commitments, financial pressures, family gatherings, more eating and drinking. You may find yourself over-stressed and off your normal routine of exercising, sleeping, healthy eating and other positive coping activities.
It becomes easy to make excuses and make unhealthy choices “because it’s Christmas”. You may become more passive and not want to voice your needs for fear of ruining a special occassion with an argument. Being around family can also mean slipping back into old relationship patterns that you’ve work hard to untangle yourself from.
For many, the holidays are all about giving and doing for others. This is a wonderful thing as long as it’s not at your own expense. Your wants and needs are valid and important. Speak up about how you want to spend the holidays, what gifts you want, or which social occassions you want to attend. Acting like a martyr only tends to cause resentments.
Don’t let the holidays become an excuse for poor boundaries.
I put together this guide to healthy holiday boundaries to help you stay focused and true to yourself.
- Ask for what you want or need.
- Say “no” without guilt.
- Say “yes” because you want to, not out of obligation or to please others.
- Let go of trying to control what other people eat, drink, wear, say, or do.
- Be empowered to skip, go late, leave early, or drive your own car to holiday parties.
- Express your feelings in an assertive and respectful way. Avoid passive-aggressive behavior.
- Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
- Spend time with supportive people.
- Take responsibility for your own happiness and don’t be a martyr.
- Don’t make excuses for yourself or anyone else.
- Act according to your own values and beliefs.