Setting Boundaries in the Holiday Season

Written by: Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa

As we transition into the New Year, we tend to reflect on our past and set out resolutions for the New Year. While common resolutions cycle among personal achievements and physical health goals, it’s extremely crucial not to overlook the significance of mental health and well-being as we set out these resolutions.

Let’s dive into setting healthy boundaries for mental health, especially during the holiday season.

First off, they serve as the invisible lines that define the limits of what is acceptable and comfortable for an individual. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a fundamental aspect of self-care. In this busy and fast-growing world where social engagement, familial expectations, work matters, as well as relationships, overlap each other, the urge to establish clear boundaries is profound. In the holiday season, myriads of social gatherings, family events, and meetups can often be emotionally draining. There is often pressure to accept every invitation that comes your way to fulfil everyone’s expectations. Establishing when to say yes and when to decline an invitation politely can help individuals to regulate their stress levels. Without clear boundaries, some of us may feel overcommitted with a busy schedule during the holidays. Learning to say no and setting realistic expectations is an essential part of setting these boundaries.

Boundaries also serve as a shield from emotionally draining and toxic friendships as well as relationships. Whether it’s managing difficult family interactions or balancing time between friend groups, having clear boundaries and prioritising oneself can help keep stress at bay and protect our mental health.

Before setting boundaries, it’s crucial to engage in self-reflection. Understand your own needs, priorities, and limits. What activities bring you joy, and which ones drain your energy? Self-awareness forms the foundation for effective boundary-setting.

We often struggle with learning to say ‘No’. It makes us feel guilty, especially those of us who are people pleasers who struggle heavily with declining invitations, gatherings, helping etc. People pleasers tend to accept every request that comes their way and often feel overcommitted and emotionally drained. Learning to say ‘No’ this season is a powerful and liberating act. It’s okay to decline invitations or requests that don’t align with your priorities or contribute positively to your well-being.

Effective communication is key to setting boundaries. It is a skill essential for maintaining healthy relationships and personal well-being. It involves transparently articulating your needs, expectations, and limits to those in your social and professional circles. The emphasis is on assertive communication, employing “I” statements to express feelings and intentions without assigning blame. Individuals take ownership of their actions by using “I” statements. Clear communication can act as a cornerstone of establishing boundaries that honour individual well-being and help maintain healthy relationships.

Whether it is alone time, a jog, or reading a book, remember to prioritise self-care this season. The New Year can often be exhausting and prioritising self-care allows you to engage in activities that bring you joy and peace.

As we step into the New Year, let us embrace the significance of setting and maintaining boundaries for our mental health. By doing so, we not only protect ourselves from the stressors of the holiday season but also lay the foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling year ahead. Boundaries are not a sign of weakness; rather, they are a powerful tool for self-care, empowering us to steer life’s challenges with resilience and grace. So, let this be the year in which we prioritise our mental well-being by setting boundaries that honour our needs and develop our souls.