Boundaries at Christmas

Friends socialising; Photographer: Dorien Monnens; Boundaries Blog

Anytime is a good time to think about boundaries, but boundaries at Christmas might just be what helps you to get through a potential family disaster. 

There is something about being confined to a small space with your family. No escape to the shops, alcohol at the ready, it’s a common occurrence for family festivities to turn into a full on family drama. Eastenders didn’t get their explosive Christmas day episodes from nothing. 

If you are dreading spending this time with your family, having a plan in place and preparing your boundaries at christmas before the big day can help to feel prepared and calm any festive anxiety. 

People pleasers are notorious for not setting boundaries. This is usually because boundaries weren’t modelled well in childhood or in family dynamics. Therefore, trying to set boundaries at Christmas or any other time can be really difficult. 

The following suggestions will help you think about your own family, and how you and your family can have a drama free Christmas.

KNOW WHAT YOUR BOUNDARIES ARE

Identify conversations that make you feel uncomfortable. Have in mind that at Christmas, this topics may be part of the conversation if you allow it. Topics of conversations that tend to feel inappropriate might look like discussing your marital status, your weight, your lifestyle choices or career choices. It may be something else not mentioned here, but only you get to decide what your boundaries are. 

Decide what are no-go areas for you.

What are absolutely unwilling to discuss and how can you shut down these conversation starters without making it even more awkward or uncomfortable. 



SELF CARE

Do what you need to attend to your needs before the gathering. 

Self care looks different for everyone, so this will come down to your personal preference.

If you arrive already feeling emotionally and physically depleted, it could mean you have nothing else left in the tank if things get difficult.  

You have to think about your own reserves and engage in self care practices.

For example, making sure you are well rested. Using relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or meditation. Or spending some time journaling some of your thoughts and feelings.

If self care all sounds a bit indulgent, it’s not, it’s a necessary part of taking care of yourself. You can even file boundaries under the umbrella of self care, because it’s all about looking after your wellbeing.

Still feel stuck on knowing what you can do for more self care? Read this previous blog for more ideas. 



PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Family relationships are important but you shouldn’t have to choose between your family and mental health.

If the environment at family functions are increasingly making you feel uncomfortable, reflect on your family relationships.

When families are dysfunctional with narcissistic abuse, emotional abuse, or a lack of emotional maturity, these can all negatively impact your mental health. 

If you feel increasingly drained or on edge during family functions, it might be worth considering if it’s worth sacrificing your mental health. 

You may decide to reduce contact, or visit on another day during the festive period when it feels less pressured. 

However you decide to spend your Christmas, ensure that the day is somewhat enjoyable for you too. 

If you find it difficult to set boundaries, you can learn more by downloading the free guide that will give you the five step to setting boundaries (if you scroll down a bit you’ll see the link, or you might have seen it already pop up across your screen).

I’m Lizandra and I’m an online psychotherapist and coach. I help empathic souls to stop people pleasing, set boundaries and have healthier relationships. I work one to one, with couples and have a group program to help women to set boundaries with confidence and ease. 

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