Boundaries during the holidays can sound like… “I can come but I have to leave by 6pm. I don’t feel comfortable coming if so-and-so will be there. I would love to bring that dish but my schedule is full. Maybe next time?” Boundaries don’t have to be unkind. I have always struggled to set boundaries (and then enforce them – that’s essential because boundaries also need action!).
It can be super uncomfortable to set boundaries. It can cause a lot of anxiety because you feel like you’re letting people down or being high-maintenance but they are also so important and your mental health matters.
Thanksgiving (In the US!) is just a week away. It feels like this month has just absolutely flown by.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with the holiday season. For a lot of years, it was a trigger for burnout, depression, and anxiety. I absolutely hated every single thing about it. Part of it was working retail, part of it was not being close to my family, and a lot of it was the expectations I set that things had to be perfect anyway.
Recipe for disaster, every single year.
Then I changed my approach and focused on self-care with no expectations.
That helped. I’m not going to say some years still weren’t hard. They were, but it was also bearable and I bounced back after a few gloomy days instead of sliding down the spiral of Holiday Doom.
Now, they’re just days. They have touches of sadness. I always miss my mom a little more during this time of the year but it’s also full of a lot of self-made joy. Even if that joy is eating pizza in my jammies and having a Lord of the Rings Marathon.
I understand how many feelings (and stressors) the holiday season can bring up and how that can affect mental health. Juggling hectic work and family schedules. Feeling pressured to make your house spotless while being the perfect host. Wishing you could spend time with people who are no longer here. And those of you that are spending the day in environments that may be toxic and triggering.
Boundaries during the holidays are essential.
Set boundaries with your time. Set boundaries with your energy. Set boundaries with people. Set boundaries with the pressure and expectations you put on yourself (and that other people put on you).
I’m holding space for you and I hope you’re able to find your own joy in the coming weeks. I want to encourage you to take care of yourself as best you can. Check-in with your mental health daily and see if you can’t schedule some extra you-time!