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Establishing Healthy Boundaries with Family this Holiday Season

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Tips and tricks on how to stay sane, empowered, and be your best self during the holidays!

The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times for many of us. I see it in the clinic and the interesting thing to me is that it is AVOIDABLE! As we continue to stress about finding the “perfect” gift for our loved ones, feeling obligated to attend ALL the holiday parties/events, and anticipating interacting with that cousin that we really don’t care for…what if we just set appropriate boundaries? 

What the heck are those?

A boundary is a limit or dividing line whether it’s physical space, personal limits, or social experiences. Establishing boundaries helps maintain balance, respect, and healthy interactions in various aspects of life.  

My top 10 list of boundaries we can set this holiday season to experience joy when interacting with family, coworkers, and friends. 

1 - Self-Reflection

Take time to identify your values, needs, and limits. Understand what's important to you and make decisions based on them. For example, if you are not big on receiving/giving gifts, let your family know! Suggest an elephant gift game as opposed to being pressured to spend money on gifts for others that do not align with your values. This can lead to feelings of resentment.

2 - Identify Triggers

Recognize situations or behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable or violated. If you can avoid triggers, great! But being able to respectfully communicate when and if this happens is crucial in maintaining healthy relationships. Asking prior to giving someone a hug is a great way to prevent triggering an individual who may not like being touched.

3 - Be Specific

Clearly define your boundaries, making them as specific as possible.

For example, "I can get overwhelmed and may need to have some alone time."

4 - Communicate Assertively

Express your boundaries directly but respectfully. Use "I" statements to convey your needs and feelings.

5 - Start Small

Begin with less challenging boundaries and gradually work your way up to more significant ones. If this is your first time communicating your boundaries to loved ones, ease into it. This would not be the time to send them an email outlining all of them prior to coming.

6 - Practice Consistency

Maintain your boundaries consistently to establish trust and predictability. This is critical is teaching our loved ones to respect our boundaries.

7 - Address Violations

If someone crosses your boundaries, kindly but firmly communicate your discomfort and request a change in behavior. Our family or friends may take offense at this communication but remember to be respectful and communicate how the violation made you feel.

8 - Self-care

Prioritize self-care to ensure your boundaries align with your well-being. We cannot be available for others if our cup is half full. You come first and that is NOT SELFISH! Take time to meditate, journal, breathe, workout, get massages, or any other thing that fills your cup.

9 - Seek Support

Discuss your boundaries with trusted friends or a therapist for guidance and encouragement. Having an outside un-biased individual like a therapist can be extremely helpful to call you out when needed or validate your feelings

Remember, setting boundaries is a sign of self-respect and helps you maintain healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

10 - Adjust As Needed

Be flexible and willing to adapt your boundaries based on changing circumstances and feedback from others. 

Combating Stress During the Holiday Season

  • Just say NO - The thing is we don’t usually find our MAX until we have already reached it. What if we learn to listen to our body for the signs telling us that we are reaching our threshold, or nearing overwhelm? Feeling of overwhelm to recognize include struggling to have rational thoughts, paralysis, overreaction to minor stressors, pessimism, mood changes, cognitive fatigue, and physical symptoms including an increased heartbeat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cramps, aches/pains, or an upset stomach.  

  • Communicate your boundaries - Discussed above. 

  • Try Mindfulness Exercises - Grounding techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise use your senses to help you get out of the chaos of your mind. Sit in a quiet spot and try to list: 

5 things you can see 

4 things you can touch or feel 

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell 

1 thing you can taste 

This exercise can help calm your nervous system and be a great distraction to the stressor, allowing you time to redirect and providing a fresh perspective. Meditation and other breathing exercises can be helpful as well. 

  • Make Rest & Sleep a priority - Not only is this important for our mood but vital for an increased immune capacity. With the holidays and exposure to more people aka germs, it is critical to rest, allowing your body to heal properly. 

  • Fuel your body well - Follow the 80/20 rule at holiday gatherings with alcohol and sugar. If I know that I have an event to attend that I may indulge in, I will make a conscious effort the rest of the day to eat clean protein, stay away from heavy carbs/processed food, drink tons of water, and minimize caffeine intake. 

  • Move your body - Exercise is a great stress reliever and can combat some of those extra calories you may take in. Despite how busy you get, don’t skip your workout. Your body and mind will thank you later! 

Learn Stress Reducing Strategies: Here

Tips on Boosting your Immune System this Holiday Season

  • Don’t skip your adjustment and if anything, this is the time to add extra adjustments. This is when we need that parasympathetic nervous system boost most! 

  • Take your vitamins- Vit D3 with K2, Orthomune, Pre/Probiotics, Colloidal Silver, and Elderberry. 

  • Wash your hands on the regular vs. using hand sanitizer. While hand sanitizers are great in a pinch, the FDA continuously updates its list of brands to avoid due to having toxic chemicals in them.

  • Educate yourself on the options available if you do come down with something. An antibiotic is not going to do anything for a virus! You will destroy your good immune fighting bacteria making yourself susceptible to a secondary infection aka a sinus infection or pneumonia…sound familiar?! Rest, hydrate, Viracid are great options when getting sick.

  • Rest, eat healthy, and move your body- All are great for building a strong immune system. 

Learn More About Boosting Your Immune System: Here

From the Health 1st Family, we hope this holiday season is filled with joy, peace, and memorable family experiences. We can all choose to find things we are grateful for during this time. What a great time to reflect on all the amazing things that happened in 2023 and on the things, we are looking forward to in the next year.  


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