How To Have Healthy Limits and Boundaries for the Holiday Season

The holiday season for many individuals is a time for gatherings of friends and family, sharing of gifts and creating memorable moments. Although for many others, it is a time of isolation, stress and emotional pain. The commercialization of the holiday season has created the illusion of perfect families and celebrations. The portrait of the perfect holiday is a foundation for anxiety, depression and relational conflicts.

Here are some suggestions for managing the holiday season and creating more peace and serenity during this hectic period.

1️⃣ Create a schedule and prepare a list of items that need to be completed. Structure and organization will help to minimize feelings of being overwhelmed. Do not fall into the trap that you must complete every task and that everything has to be perfect.  The hustle and bustle of the season is designed to create anxiety and stress. Structure and organization will help to avoid negative feelings during this time of the year.

2️⃣ Maintain healthy boundaries! Establishing limits and boundaries will help to avoid unnecessary arguments and conflicts. A protective boundary is where we keep those unhealthy individuals in our lives at a safe distance. Avoid individuals and situations that create feelings of shame, embarrassment and frustration.  It is perfectly ok, to say no to an invite.  A containment boundary is when we do not say or do something that will hurt others regardless of the truth.  Sometimes it is best to keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves when we know that we will cause pain to others.

3️⃣ Avoid expectations. William Shakespeare said it best: Expectation is the root of all heartache. Remember all individuals and institutions are built to disappoint. None of us are perfect and by virtue of being human, we will make mistakes and hurt others.  Lowering our expectations of others will help to avoid resentment and anger and allow us the opportunity to enjoy others for who they are.

4️⃣ Stay active! During this time of the year, depression is natural and normal with shorter days and less sunlight. It has been said, that depression has a hard time hitting a moving object. Stay active with exercise, walk or bike instead of driving and be around people.  If there is limited family and friends in our lives, volunteer at a food pantry, visit an elderly neighbor, utilize museums, libraries and other free activities in the community. Be around people and stay outdoors as much as possible.

5️⃣ Moderation is essential during this season. Avoid excessive eating and drinking. Remember food and alcohol directly impact our mood. Healthy eating and abstinence from alcohol and drugs are key components in maintaining emotional balance.

Following these five suggestions during this time of the year will help us to maintain peace and serenity during this season of joy and wonder. Be kind to yourself and others!!

— Robert Watts —