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Healthy boundaries for happier holidays

Woman leans back in chair and smiles

6 tips to help you avoid becoming a Grinch

We receive countless messages from sources that the holidays are the happiest time of the year. But for many of us, the holidays are stressful and hectic. They demand extra attention for cooking, cleaning, party planning, hosting, and talking with family members. By learning how to create healthy boundaries, you might enjoy the holidays more. These tips can help. 

Manage your time commitments. Decide what amount of activity feels best to maintain your energy and mental health. Ask yourself, is there a time of night you want to be home from holiday events on weekends? Or is there a specific number of nights you’re willing to attend a party during the week? Make the decision that feels most authentic, and commit to it throughout the season.

Set financial boundaries. Creating a budget can help alleviate stress when it comes to big expenses like gift giving and holiday meals. Consider the following questions when establishing your budget:

  • Who are you buying for? Can you allocate a certain amount per person?
  • Are there opportunities to host a group gift exchange with a spending cap? This way, you only purchase one gift, and everyone still gets to participate in the fun.
  • Is there a dollar amount per paycheck that you can afford to save? Putting $50 per month in a savings account for a year will give you $600!

Communicate clearly and honestly. We can choose how we communicate to friends and family. Therefore, it’s best to be candid about decisions you’ve made about how you’ll spend your holidays. Use language with the words “I feel” or “I decided” to clarify your boundaries. Whether it’s about financial restraints, or the amount of time to spend, empower yourself to be open and clear.

Drink alcohol responsibly. Alcohol can be an enjoyable, fun component of celebrations! However, it can also increase stress and cause us to abandon boundaries if abused. During the holidays it can be easy to drink mindlessly out of habit or tradition. Paying attention to the number of drinks you consume, and asking yourself whether you really want a drink, can help you be more mindful.

*If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please reach out to the nationwide hotline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services at 800-662-HELP (4357)*

When you disagree, do it in a healthy way. If your family is not accustomed to boundaries, they may disagree with open and honest communication. In this case, try to stay calm and respectful. Listen to the other person’s side, then work toward a solution. If the other person is not being respectful, give yourself permission to leave the conversation, and pick it up another time.

Get professional help. Unfortunately, stress is often connected with the holidays. Talking to a friend or family member may help, but you also may want to see a counselor. He or she can help you manage your stress, resulting in healthier celebrations.

Boundaries are our own protective shield against stress. When we set them, we let the world know that our time and energy are valuable. The holidays can be a time filled with love, happiness, and joy, instead of stress and anxiety.

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Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.


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