Boundaries in the Holiday Season

Dec 7, 2022

by Lyndsay Babcock 
Psychologist & Director – The Self Centre 


What are boundaries?

I like to think of personal boundaries as being like the door to your life, similar to the front door of your house, you get to decide when you open the door, who you invite in, and how often you open the door.

Sometimes we don’t treat ourselves with the same kind of respect that we would treat our home, because we don’t know how, or too many things get in the way.

Setting boundaries help us to ensure we maintain what is good and healthy for us. Having good boundaries help us to minimise burn out, helps to maintain healthy relationship with others and ourselves.

Often time we breach our own boundaries because we are trying to hard to manage the people around us – their feelings, their experiences, their behaviours and we get caught up in behaviours that don’t support us in effort to manage those around us

So how do we maintain good boundaries in the holiday season?

Is it very tempting to Override our own needs at this time of year. It’s really tempting to push a little bit harder, or do a little bit more or say yes to things that you might otherwise say no to, or overload your schedule. All of those things mean that, little by little, your boundaries start to get eroded and before you know it you are exhausted or overwhelmed.

So, in order to maintain good boundaries in the holidays the first thing we need to do is identify what our boundaries are and establish what we need through the busy holiday season.

1. You may need to set boundaries in your relationships with family – for example how much time do you want to spend, and can you spend with the people in your life. How many parties can you say yes to? How much time in the holiday season do you want to spend with what people? Once you have done this, then any invitation to do something outside of these established boundaries can be gracefully declined.

2. Setting financial boundaries is really important so that you don’t find yourself overwhelmed with financial pressure. Set a budget around what you want to spend on social events, presents for others, and or holidays.

3. Set boundaries around work expectations. Have an idea of how much time you need to spend at work, and how much time you can offer yourself to have some rest and recovery especially at this time of year. Make sure you offer yourself an opportunity to take rest, to put your feet up and relax. This will go along way to helping you enjoy the holiday season.

4. Finally determine how much you actually need to participate in the culture of the holiday season. Do you need to decorate for hours on end? Can you outsource your gift wrapping? Can you share the responsibility of making meals, or treats for people.

Now of course some people love doing these things but if you’re someone who finds these tasks overwhelming then give yourself permission to do less or outsource as much as you can.

Boundary setting is a skill that we develop over time so offer yourself grace if you are finding this difficult. Give yourself permission to practice boundary setting over time so that you can support yourself well through the holiday season and beyond.