The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy and coming together. However, this season can sometimes bring up tricky family dynamics for many people. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between feeling left out on one side and compromising yourself. Setting healthy boundaries during the holidays is key if you want to feel good about your interactions with your family. Here are some tips on how to set boundaries with your family during this special time of year.
Know your boundaries before you go
Before family gatherings even begin, know what your boundaries are. Are there specific topics you just don’t want to discuss? Are there certain foods you do or don’t want to eat? Are there certain ways you don’t want to be spoken to? You may feel like you have to have a certain kind of response to your family’s questions and comments, but the truth is that you don’t. You get to choose how you want to react to any given situation, and you can do so based on your own needs and wants.
Don’t feel like you need to over explain yourself
There’s a difference between setting clear expectations and feeling like you need to explain yourself. For example, if someone asks why you don’t eat meat, explaining yourself doesn’t mean telling them that you don’t eat meat because it’s cruel. It means telling them exactly why you don’t eat meat. This can be an excellent way to start a conversation with people in your family who you might not otherwise have much in common with. Suppose you feel like you need to explain yourself but don’t want to get into specifics. In that case, you can ask open-ended questions like, “What’s your favorite tradition or recipe from your family?” or “What was your best memory from childhood?” to start the conversation.
Have a support system in place
Communicating with your family is essential, but it isn’t enough. You also need to have a support system in place. Whether that means talking to a friend or finding a therapist, you need someone in your corner who can help you process the emotions that come up during this special time of year. Spending time with people who support you and understand what you’re going through can make all the difference. Even if you can only find 10 or 15 minutes a week to reach out to someone, it can make a big difference in your well-being.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy, but for many people, they bring up painful memories and tricky family dynamics. If you feel stressed and anxious this holiday season, setting boundaries with your family can help!