Hey there! The holiday season is upon us, and depending on how your Thanksgiving panned out, you may need to set some boundaries this holiday season. If you find yourself overwhelmed, depleted or dreading the holidays, this may be a good sign that you need some boundaries in place.
What the heck are boundaries? Good question, my friend. Boundaries are those little (or big) rules, limits, or guidelines that you put in place to help protect your body, space and privacy. They are super important for your overall health and wellbeing, not to mention your personal relationships. So, if your family members drove you a bit nuts at Thanksgiving and now you're worried about what's going to happen at Christmas, you, my friend, could (should) set some boundaries.
Steps to set and preserve boundaries:
1. Name your limits. Know where you stand. If something makes you uncomfortable or stressed, this may be a good sign that this is your limit. Take what you CAN tolerate into consideration, and then set you boundaries based on your tolerance level.
2. Get up close and personal with your feelings. If you feel discomfort or resentment, this may be a clue that you are letting go of your boundaries. Take some time to check-in with yourself about your discomfort or resentment. Great questions to ask yourself: What or who is causing you to feel this way? What are others doing that lets you know they are crossing your boundaries? What will make you feel better or provide relief? What can you tolerate? Are you listening to your needs and respecting your limits? How do you help others respect your limits?
3. Be direct about your boundaries. State your limits and let other know HOW they can respect your boundaries. Be assertive and don't beat around the bush. Others may feel discomfort when you begin setting boundaries, but this does not necessarily mean that you are not doing this well. If you appropriately and respectfully assert yourself and others do not respond well, please know that this is a reflection of them, not you.
4. Give your self permission. Don’t let fear, guilt and self-doubt hold you back from enforcing your boundaries. You DESERVE to have boundaries. You do not have to put up with a situation that causes you discomfort or resentment. It is ok to say NO. You don't EVER have to do something that does not feel right to you, because you think you owe someone, or because you think you should just be able to cope with the situation.
5. Practice self-awareness. Get in touch with yourself, honor your feelings, and if you find that your boundaries are slipping, revisit steps 1-4.
6. Know your past and respect your present. Your relationships and environments may be unhealthy. Do not let yourself be drained emotionally and physically. If ignoring your needs has become the norm for you, break the cycle. Your needs ARE important. Set boundaries to change your present so that it does not continue to reflect your past. You, my friend, can break the cycle.
7. Self-care, self-care, self-care. Make this a priority. If you cringe at the words self-care, this may be a good sign that you could really benefit from it. Put yourself first. Be creative, do something you truly enjoy, relax and find a little relief. Take a warm bath, color in an adult book, go for a walk, take photos, knit, see a friend, drink tea, watch a funny video, read an interesting magazine, or doodle. Do whatever makes you feel good, more relaxed and comfortable. Btw, setting boundaries is a great form of self-care!
If you need help with setting or enforcing boundaries, reach out to your support system and ask for help. Remember to be assertive when setting boundaries and know that setting boundaries takes practice and time, especially if this is new territory for you.
You’ve got this!
I know a little something about boundaries, so if you'd like to learn more, connect with me. I'd be happy to help you get started!
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). 10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/