How to Set Boundaries During the Holidays


It’s the holiday season!  For some, this season is full of joy, happiness, and togetherness.  For others, it may create a sense of anxiety, dread, and fear.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season may feel more stressful than fun.  If this sounds like you, I hope to offer you some suggestions to help this holiday season go smoother than previous years by setting boundaries.

What are Boundaries?

The reason I talk about boundaries so much in session and also online is because they are so important!  Boundaries teach other people how we want them to treat us, and what we are/are not okay with.  When you set boundaries with family members, you may say things like:

“No that time will not work for our family to get together because it’s during our child’s naptime”

“Please do not talk about my spouse that way”

“When you make fun of my weight, it hurts my feelings”

“I’m sorry but I cannot host Christmas this year.  We have too many other commitments at this time”

“We will be staying home for Christmas this year”

Learn to Say No

If you noticed, many of the boundaries above involved saying some form of “no”.  This can be really hard to do, because saying no to someone you care about means you may hurt their feelings.  Others may have expectations for you that aren’t realistic or healthy.  Saying no is really about protecting yourself, and not overextending yourself during the holidays.  It’s a form of self-care.  When you say no, decline an invitation, or take something off your plate, you are really making space for other things.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s important to take care of yourself during this season.  Sometimes that means missing a party so you can have some time to yourself for self-care.  Maybe it’s spending Christmas morning at your home with your children versus rushing off to attend five other family Christmas’s in one day.  Sometimes this means letting go of your own expectations of how the holidays will go, and starting new traditions.  It also means exercising, reading a good book by the fire, or taking time to go look at Christmas lights.  Whatever self-care looks like to you, make sure you carve out time during the holidays to do it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Journey to Joy Counseling!

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.

Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.