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The holiday season can be filled with rich and joyous moments full of connection. The holiday season can also be filled with stress and overworking, trying to connect with family and friends and feeling overwhelmed and burdened in the process. Both experiences are common and navigating your holiday season to find a balance between connection and withdrawal while using boundaries is a helpful and necessary step.
The first thing to recognize is that you cannot create and maintain connection without boundaries. Our boundaries allow us to be compassionate people, giving us the understanding in relationships to know what is and what is not okay. If you find yourself feeling burned out during the holidays or dreading extended time with family and friends, setting more clear boundaries may be helpful in alleviating anxiety around these occasions.
Asking yourself “What is and isn’t okay for me?” and “What are my limits within this relationship?” are two questions you can begin with in setting more clear boundaries. Each of these allows you to determine the
Acknowledge that you may feel uncomfortable or guilty in setting new boundaries within your relationships. This process is one that is ongoing and requires continual work. Reminding yourself that boundaries allow you to be kind and effective within your relationships with the help of your therapist or counselor is essential to the process.
After working toward identifying your needs and feelings, state your boundary in an assertive and neutral way, one that allows you to be heard and understood. Boundaries can sound like “I will only be able to make it for the day instead of the weekend” or “I need to look at my calendar first and I will get back to you.” Boundaries can even sound like “I won’t be able to make it” or “I need some time to myself today.” Whatever your boundaries may be, it is important to remember that others’ reactions to your boundary setting is not your responsibility to feel burdened by. Talk to your counselor or therapist about identifying your boundaries and setting these effectively and with confidence.