We all know the idyllic holiday scene – a happy family gathering by a glowing fireplace as snow softly falls outside the window. However, the holiday season can be a source of increased stress and anxiety. Setting boundaries is a meaningful strategy to manage anxiety and distress all year long, and especially during the holiday season. The following are some ways to preserve your mental health and well-being allowing for a more positive holiday experience:
1. Identify and limit triggers
To begin setting effective boundaries, identify the specific triggers that contribute to your anxiety during the holidays. Some examples of triggers include excessive socializing, challenging family dynamics, long lists of to-dos, and/or overwhelming commitments. By clarifying your triggers, you may be able to minimize or eliminate some of them.
2. Clarify your priorities
Reflect on what truly matters to you during the holiday season. By identifying your priorities, you can set boundaries that align with your values and help you focus on what brings you joy. This might involve scaling back on certain commitments to prioritize self-care and/or quality time with loved ones.
Open and honest communication is key when setting boundaries. Approach communication assertively and kindly while keeping your own needs in the forefront of your mind.
4. Prioritize Self Care
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, carving out time for self-care is crucial. Identify what types of self-care activities leave you feeling refreshed, for example, meditation, exercise, or other pleasurable activities. Establishing boundaries around personal time helps recharge your energy and alleviate anxiety.
5. Guilt-Free “No”
Learning to say “no” is a powerful skill throughout the year and can be especially useful during the holiday season. Politely declining invitations or additional commitments that exceed your capacity is a form of self-care. Remember, saying “no” is not a rejection; it’s a way to protect your mental well-being.
6. Find your space
Physical boundaries are essential whether you are traveling to visit family or inviting guests into your home. Find quiet areas for personal time, create boundaries around that space, and communicate your needs to ensure a more comfortable and stress-free environment.
7. Seek professional help
Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially when interacting with friends and family who are not accustomed to you setting boundaries with them. You may be struggling with concerns about interpersonal conflict or rejection from loved ones. A MellaHealth therapist can help you navigate how to set boundaries in a way that feels authentic and prioritizes your needs.
Setting boundaries during the holidays is an investment in your mental health and wellbeing. By identifying triggers, clarifying priorities, and communicating openly, you can manage your anxiety and navigate the holiday season with greater ease. Remember that your well-being matters as you welcome in the holiday season!