7 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries with Family this Christmas
11th Oct 22
Psst, are you secretly dreading spending time with your family this Christmas?
Despite the festive period being a magical time for some, for others it can feel quite the opposite.
Just the thought of keeping up with festive traditions, managing family dynamics, or juggling a long list of festive to dos can leave you emotionally and physically drained, well before the big day itself!
Burdening yourself with such woes can easily lead to increased worry, resentment, stress, and naturally less joy and festive cheer! To help combat this, start setting healthy boundaries with your family this Christmas before the craziness begins! We have seven fabulous wellness experts to help show you how.
1. Match Expectations with the Agreement of Family this Christmas
Andrea Marsh, a Shiatsu Practitioner and Menopause Specialist at Cotswold Menopause
Christmas starts early with a lot of people’s emotions, as soon as the nights draw in. Energy and thoughts start turning inward to think about spending time together during the festive season. And fulfilling the hope and expectations of what Christmas with family means to them.
This is where healthy boundary setting begins, matching expectations with agreement to avoid disappointment and stress. Employing the principles, I’ve learnt in Chinese medicine on how to manage your family’s emotions does mean realising most people don’t think like you; your spouse, your children, and particularly mother/daughters-in-law!
Discussing this sooner about what time you’ll spend together, getting that date in the diary, who is doing what and where, not only avoids monumental stress of not knowing but also gives you something to look forward to. You’ve made an agreement together rather than expecting something that doesn’t realise, which leads to disappointment.
Let go of being together on December 25th, it’s just a date; make a date that is good for all parties and look forward to that.
Leave space, too much crammed together leads to being tired, fractious, and resentful. Time alone to recuperate your energy will allow you to be your best self again!
2. Armour Yourself this Festive Period
Claire Standen, a Divorce Empowerment Coach at Claire Standen Coaching
When we spend Christmas with family, it can bring up all the old wounds that we thought we’d put to bed long ago.
Whether it’s being treated like a child when you’re now a parent yourself, or just being expected to fit back into an old version of yourself that you’ve outgrown, it can be challenging in the extreme.
So, how do you spend time with family over the festive period without losing your sanity?
You’ll need to set up some boundaries, and fast! For particularly toxic family members, you can’t use logic to make it better. Instead, why not use this simple and effective ‘body armour’ technique.
Whether you believe in ‘energetic boundaries’ or not, you know that over 70% of what we communicate is non-verbal. So, before you even step over the threshold, spend time imagining yourself in a protective cocoon (it might be a bubble of light, a shell or anything that feels safe).
Imagine this protective layer repelling any negative behaviours and words that are aimed at you. When you’ve got a good sense of how it feels to have this protection in place, you’re ready to have a new experience of the festive period.
3. Empower Yourself and Your Family
Catherine Taylor, a Psychotherapist and Author of Life or Lie from Catherine Taylor Changing Lives.
I am all too aware that as Christmas approaches many clients become anxious about being able to “please everyone and accept every invite”. This often results in not orchestrating your own ideal Christmas, but instead conforming to other family members requests. I know this can cause arguments and upset within the family which is not within the “Spirit of Christmas”
The key is to set good boundaries and state your wishes from a loving place to the other people involved. Thus avoiding resentment and being robbed of the celebration you want. Do not avoid rejection, as the alternative is to reject yourself and revert to “people pleasing”. If rejection comes then hold on you will survive, and it could lead to change that you wish for. If you have always complied, then give the others time to catch up. It may not be their fault if you have always said yes when you mean no!
Often, we do not realise we are giving others a mixed message by hinting how tight our schedule is.
Take responsibility (ability to respond). Thus, empowering yourself and family this Christmas.
Merry Xmas 🎄
4. Aim To Keep the Peace with Family this Christmas
Christine Maragkakis, a Women’s Life Coach at Simply be retreats and therapies
Maybe you find having everyone over stressful or you dread the annual arguments.
Take a look at the groups that you invite over at the same time and switch it up a bit. Have some people for lunch and others for dinner. In fact why not take the stress out of the situation and have everyone over for games and a buffet. This is especially good if it’s the opportunity to talk at the dinner table that causes conflict!
If the tension is caused by people who have high anxiety or are likely to become over stimulated, then build opportunities for quiet into the visit. Suggest a walk, a quiet game or puzzle or even make it known that there is a quiet space for people to retreat to when it all gets a bit much.
Communicate! Share your plans calmly and without blame with all concerned ahead of the festive season. You can speak face to face or maybe use an emailed invitation or a funny video. This will give them time to process things. Plus, ask questions, accept it or choose not to come, which is completely ok. Maybe they find it all stressful too and were looking for a way out.
5. Be Still & Honour Yourself
Geraldine Crane, a Serene Spiritual Empowerment Guide, found over at Serene, Spiritual & Empowered – with Geraldine Crane Facebook Group
Christmas can be an emotionally demanding time. So, I want to share my top tips for healthy boundaries with family this Christmas.
Give yourself time to pause and reconnect with you. Take at least 5 minutes a day to quiet your mind, whether through, mediation/walking/gardening. Do whatever feels right for you.
Limit time with difficult relatives
Don’t be afraid to limit your time with people who drain you. Where possible, keep it to short bursts rather than long periods of time.
Know you have a right to your boundaries
You cannot help others if you break down, so know you are doing what’s right for everyone, by taking care of yourself. And know if your boundaries trigger anger in others, that is their issue to face and heal. It is not your responsibility; you are only responsible for your happiness.
Protect your energy
When you are around difficult relatives, imagine yourself in a Pyramid of Protection and see their negative energy bouncing off the walls of the pyramid.
Make time to do the things that bring you joy. You have a right to be happy and your joy will ripple outwards, benefitting all those who truly love you.
6. Gift Yourself First This Christmas
Joe Roe, a Mental Health Coach, sharing her FREE Detox Toolbox over at The Mental Health Coach
Let’s create your special gift for yourself. This gift will hold all your lovely festive holiday non-negotiables and clear boundaries to access whenever you wish.
In your mind create your gift-wrapped parcel. Be curious for example what is its shape, size, colour, sounds, texture, weight, Christmas tastes or smells etc.
Here are questions and examples to consider, for you to mentally pop your own personal responses into your unique parcel
- What makes you feel calm and happy? getting out in nature, a cheesy Christmas movie and spending time with somebody
- What Christmas traditions do you cherish? decorating a real tree or hot chocolate and PJ nights
- How can you choose to respond to any drama? Perhaps remember that you are not responsible for changing others, accept you can choose how you respond such as watching over situations like a fly on the wall to remove yourself a little or pretend you have a TV remote control to turn down their voice or change it to a funny voice
In your mind, place your joyful packaged gift somewhere safe and protected such as inside or outside your body so that you can access this at any time. Enjoy!
7. Get Real With Yourself
Karen Peddie, a Reiki Master Teacher, EFT Practitioner & Meditation Teacher, found over at Karen Peddie Holistics
Christmas films are on, everyone is happy and enjoying time with each other. The tree is decked beautifully, presents all neatly wrapped beneath, next to a roaring log fire. The table laden with rich food and the snow is falling outside. Sounds lovely, but is it realistic?
In the real world, Christmas with family can be a very stressful, expensive and exhausting time. Cue… overwhelm, procrastination and last-minute panic! You find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, in a sweat, mind in a spin and can’t go back to sleep because you have so much to do.
So, get yourself a little notebook and pen and leave it at the side of your bed. Write down everything that is whirling around in your head, that you can do absolutely nothing about at 3am. Try to get down as much as you can, just get it out of your head.
Next morning, read your notes, make a list of things to do. Notice how this makes you feel and journal on it.
Don’t feel guilty saying NO to something or someone, say it and mean it!
Setting Boundaries with Family this Christmas – Take Home Message
Our emotional and mental wellbeing can be easily tested during the festive period. Setting boundaries with family members whether it’s Christmas or not, is a must.
Hopefully you’ll utilise at least one of the seven fabulous ideas offered by our wellness experts to help you. You are worth it after all! And it is the season of good will (this includes yourself)!
If you’d like to explore and find further solutions to help manage boundaries, self-care or festive stress, check our wellbeing platform that shares many solutions from dedicated wellbeing professionals who have walked a mile in your shoes.
On that note, be sure to have a good festive period and take good care!
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