By: Rachel Goldsmith, MS, MA

With the holidays upon us, it is a time for much celebration and festivity. Parties and gatherings, although enjoyable, can fill one’s calendar quickly. What is meant to be a time of joyful get-togethers often ends up feeling overwhelming and chaotic. Financial strain, busy schedules, and dealing with complicated relationship dynamics during the holiday season can easily detract from the happiness this season can bring. With these mounting demands on your time and energy, it is important to set healthy boundaries to ensure that you are respecting your own limits. If you find that you often experience the holiday season as stressful and overwhelming, these 3 strategies for developing healthy boundaries may help you better navigate this season with more ease and happiness.

  1. Become clear about what is important to you. The holidays can demand a lot from you, and one way to know how to make good choices about how to spend your time and money is to let your values guide you. Knowing that, for instance, you feel it essential to spend Christmas day with your closest family members, then you can set boundaries around that time to make sure you are able to make that happen. Set your priorities and feel confident about the choices you make.
  2. Get comfortable saying “no.” Saying “no” is not rude or selfish when done effectively. In fact, it communicates to others that you know your limits and feel entitled to take care of yourself. Most people respect this and feel appreciative that someone was honest with them. If you feel that you really need to say no to a party invitation or a request to travel a long distance to attend a family get-together, try to remember that setting this boundary is healthy, not self-centered.
  3. Take care of yourself. The holidays can often mean taking care of others and making sure they are enjoying themselves. Of course, unless you feel healthy and cared for, you will not have the energy or inner resources to extend yourself for others. Be mindful about how you are feeling – both in your mind and your body. Set a good example for others around you about how important it is to take care of yourself during stressful times. Practice mindfulness, get exercise and sleep, and be gentle toward yourself. You will appreciate it in the end when you make yourself a priority during the holiday season.