Often, we face the challenge of being festive while maintaining the need for appropriate boundaries!
Ah yes, the holidays. There are so many during this time of year…at this point we are well past Turkey Day/Tofurkey Day, but in the month of December we have: Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Hannukah, Boxing Day, Ōmisoka, Winter Solstice and Festivus. With all of these holidays can come a lot of stress, depression, anxiety and budget busting. We may hold certain expectations for the holidays, personal traumatic histories of this season or even feeling like we need to uphold a particular family tradition that no longer speaks to us. Let’s not forget that some of us have family that leave a bad taste and are generally avoided. You know the family member…you see them before they see you and you step into a shop or cross the street.
So, how do we take care of ourselves during this time? It is VERY tempting to drop the notion or practice of Self Care and Boundary Setting in effort to make things simpler, but are they really more simple? Or, are you pushing your anxiety and depression so far down and just attempting to press through. It’s like faking an orgasm…really not worth it in the end. So, we meet the challenges of Self Care and Boundary Setting while remaining festive.
*wipes brow* this may be quite a bit of work, y’all, but it will be worth the effort. Because we will have a stronger sense of peace and while Uncle Jimi or Aunt Phyllis may no longer choose to sit next to us at the holiday feast…did we really want them there in the first place?
Reflect on Past Holidays
How did you feel sitting down and spending several hours with the group you are invited and/or expected to join? Reflect on your heart rate as you approached the door or even your temperament days before you planned to eat with this group. Were you snappy? Content? Elated or pissed?
Consider a Friend holiday
You may feel like you MUST attend your family’s holiday or go to the seasonal celebration of your in-laws, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot spend time with your chosen family. Consider it as a counter to any negativity you may be expecting based off your reflections of past holidays.
Set a Strict Time Limit
Okay. It’s done. You feel you have no choice (there is always a choice by the way) but to attend this unsavory gathering. So, how do you keep yourself good? Well, perhaps you set a time limit. You know that when Uncle Jimi has that second drink that it is going to get ROUGH so you start say your goodbyes when that drink is being poured. Or, you know that Aunt Phyllis is going to start talking politics as soon as the dessert is being served, so you pop out of there like a toaster strudel. Like. A. Toaster. STRUDEL!
Limit Engagement with the Unsavory
We have our plan with Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Jim, but we failed to consider the annoying in-law. In-Law Sally doesn’t do anything “wrong”, but something about her is just that. You’d prefer to avoid how you feel around her. However, Sally likes to come over to chat it up with you. She is excited for some unidentified reason to come over and tell you all about a subject of which you could not possibly care less. Limit your engagement! Be kind and polite, but set a time limit for each attempted engagement and excuse yourself.
Stick to a Budget: Time, Money, Energy
You are on a budget! If you are not, you should be. Why? You may demand. Why should you reduce your esteemed self to a budget? Well, because it will only serve to elevate and lift IF you apply it appropriately. Now, you already know about money budgets, but let me argue the case for a time and energy budget as well. Before the holiday season is in full swing, take a moment to reflect on past holidays and think of how you would like to set additional boundaries to practice self care. If you go to your friend holiday and find yourself full in belly, mind and spirit…spend as much time there as you desire. Budget for it! But, if the work or family gathering leaves you feeling spent, exhausted or just sad…budget for it! There is nothing wrong with spending an hour with folks and excusing yourself for another event. That other event could literally be dinner with the bestie or drinking hot chocolate while watching Netflix. You do not owe an explanation. But, if you feel you do…make it simple, keep it plain, offer no additional detail.
Create Space to Step Away
Ugh! This event…you can’t leave after an hour. Other tactics may assist, but you cannot physically leave the space. There may be more of an expectation (your beloved asked you to remain) or the event is taking place in your home. This one is more of a challenge, but you can handle it! You can simply create space. You already know the environment. You know the list. You know the layout of the space. You are PREPARED. Perhaps you dress in a way that will allow you to walk away in cold weather. Oh darn, you forgot your ______ in the car and you need go grab it. Take 20 minutes to grab your _______. Step outside, visit the kids playing games and get your behind beat at a video game or go into the coat room for a 10 minute breather.
Acknowledge Your Abundant Worth
You deserve to feel good and not have your spirit crusted by an uncle who takes count of every pound your gained or a busy body cousin who just wants to know why you are not married or in a long term relationship. Set boundaries. Make them plain, clear and maintain them. You set them for a reason and if someone, regardless of who they are, chooses to violate them, you have a distinct and a beautiful opportunity. You can walk away. You do not owe an explanation and you certainly do not owe someone your energy who is determined to hurt you. Maintain your peace.
I wish you a beautiful holiday season. May you be well and in good spirits. As we begin to enter into the next year, may you set your intentions and reaffirm your boundaries. Be well.
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