Rachel Brandwene, LCSW
5 Ways to Start Setting Boundaries This New Year
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
The holiday season can be a wonderful time filled with friends, family, fun, and celebration. However, it can also be a time of stress and fatigue for many people. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to overextend yourself to make the holidays perfect. Instead, setting boundaries around your mental health and wellbeing is essential.
Your wellbeing should come first no matter what time of year it is. You should not be afraid to turn down social invites if they overwhelm you or put too much strain on your energy levels. When engaging in festive activities, take the time to pause and reflect on how these experiences make you feel before deciding whether or not you should continue participating in them.
Here are 5 Ways to Recognize a Boundary being violated…and what you can do about it… 1: Something feels off:
You can't quite put a finger on it but you're starting to notice that there is discomfort and you're unclear as to why. Next time you notice this, try taking a pause and expressing how you feel. Something like "I'm noticing that X is causing me some discomfort and I'd like to get some clarity on this with you.
When you invite the other person to collaborate during the conversation, this allows you some space for nonviolent communication to take place.
2: You leave a conversation drained:
You feel exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed by what just took place. You are still unsure as to why... but you feel like your energy has been depleted.
Try giving yourself some time to rest from the exhaustion. Allow yourself, at the very least 30 seconds to do absolutely nothing, free of any responsibilities. This allows your nervous system to complete a cycle and begin to develop an understanding to what just happened.
3: There’s a discomfort/tension in your chest or shoulders
Areas of your body become tense and you notice either a sinking in your stomach or a tightness in your chest that results in an a increased heart rate and shortness of breath. This is your nervous system expressing that whatever just happened...it's not comfortable with it.
Next time ask yourself if you are over accommodating for others or if you're putting your needs first. It is very common in these situations that an opportunity/need for you to say "no" or removing something from your plate id necessary. Give it a try and notice how that feels.
4: You’re feeling frustrated
You're angry, you're frustrated, and you feel like everything is going wrong. Sometimes we start saying yes to things for so long we have no idea where we stopped listening to our systems needs and starting pleasing others.
This is your sign to take some space from the situation. Healthy aggression is another way to move through the fight response that is most likely showing up in this scenario. You can try this by making a fist and noticing how that feels, maybe even a pillow squeeze?
5: You feel like your needs are being ignored
I call this one the final straw. You've gotten to the point where you feel like no one is listening to you or respects and values what you need during moments of duress. Have you tried asking for what you've needed?
Next time this is your permission slip to call it right out that you have some needs and that there are certain things that are either not ok with you or that don't feel comfortable. You can be firm and gentle at the same time. Try something like "When ____ happened, I noticed that it didn't feel ok with me. In order to prioritize my needs I'm going to have to ______. Thank you for honoring my needs.
Validating your boundary with a "thank you for listening" can be quite helpful in remaining gentle. However, I want to note that you are not asking for someone else to respect your needs. This is a statement not a question. You've got this!
By taking care of yourself first and foremost during this season, you are honoring yourself and protecting your mental health. Your self-care needs are still as important during the holidays as they were all year round – maybe even more so! Taking breaks from the hustle and bustle when needed is perfectly normal and will actually allow you to enjoy your time with family and friends more fully when present in the moment.
It’s okay to set boundaries for your mental health and wellbeing this holiday season – for your own sake as well as for those around you!
Let me know how you plan to set a boundary for yourself today! Drop a comment below!