Setting Boundaries During The Holidays


We’re closing in on the end of the year and with that comes traditional celebrations and this year, even in person gatherings are on the table.

With the holidays approaching, many are fully engrossed in menu planning, gift shopping and holiday cheer. On the other hand, many are dreading the burden of extra responsibilities, more items on their to-do list, and the prospect of another family gathering with conflict.

It seems now more than ever, there are landmine topics within family and group dynamics which must be avoided and swerved to insure a drama free event. Politics, cultural events and the pandemic are all hot topics right now, and all hold the potential to wreak havoc. Maybe your strained family dynamic has nothing to do with current events, instead, has deep roots in past traumas or history. Either way, many people are concerned about how to maintain their positive mental health through the holidays.

The key to avoiding the family gathering pitfalls is to maintain health boundaries during the holidays that keep you safe and advise your loved ones on where to meet you.

Below are some helpful techniques on how to build and maintain helpful boundaries during the holidays:

Be Ok With Setting Boundaries

A great way to set boundaries during the holidays and stop an uncomfy conversation is to simply express that the given topic is not one that you’re interested in continuing. If you find it hard to simply say no, consider re-directing the conversation to a different topic, one that you feel more comfortable with. If your relative continues to steer the conversation back to an area that you do not wish to pursue, it may be time for the next tip.

Be Comfortable With Walking Away

Excusing yourself from the conversation allows you to hold your boundary, without fear of confrontation or being seen as “rude”. Often conversations at family events are short lived as everyone tries to interact with each other, so exiting the conversation mid-talk to go assist with the meal prep, wash the dishes or chat with someone else is completely normal.

Stick With Those Who Value Your Boundaries

After excusing yourself from the conversation, it can be helpful to stick with some go-to safe family members who have your back. If you know for certain that you have an uncle who brings up controversial conversations or a cousin who triggers you, it can be smart to work out a strategy with your go-to family members. You can work together to swoop in when you’re looking uncomfortable.

Make A Holidays Coping Strategy

Ultimately, you may not be able to avoid people or conversations that may make you uncomfortable and this can be really challenging. Although you may feel like you were roped into a situation that dismissed your boundaries, you can in fact make up a coping strategy as a way of maintaining your self-care. Before you attend the event or gathering, write down 2 or 3 coping strategies that you can use if you feel you need them. This could include: taking bathroom breaks to do a short meditation or breathing exercises, watching your favourite movie or show before bed to take your mind off things or physically washing away the day by taking a comforting shower or bath. The possibilities are endless.

Looking for extra support during the holidays? The Reflection Centre is here to help!

Contact us to see how we can assist you over the coming weeks and into the new year. 

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