Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year. The festive mood lights up the streets, everyone is busy finishing their errands, making surprises and wrapping gifts for their loved ones, people are much happier, homes smell of apples, cinnamon, and freshly baked chocolate cookies, no one cares how much they eat ( it’s winter bulk time, duh?) and let’s not forget the Christmas movies.
Ah, can’t say no to that.
However, sometimes even the most wonderful time in the year can become emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting. Sure, wrapping gifts, baking cookies and having family dinners is nice, but when you combine this dynamic with frequent family gatherings, it gets pretty hard to avoid stressing and burning out.
This is the main reason why knowing when to set boundaries is one of the most important things you can do to preserve your overall wellbeing. Boundaries may offend many, but will surely protect your emotions, your physical space, your material possessions, and your beliefs.
And no, setting these walls is not a selfish thing. It’s simply drawing a line between what belongs to you and what belongs to others:
Here are some usual holiday scenarios that you shouldn’t be afraid of:
1.Don’t feel guilty – It’s okay not to go home for the holidays. Maybe you want to fly to the Maldives and finally have that dream vacation that you’ve been planning for years. Maybe your fiancé’s family has already arranged something for you. And maybe you just want to stay in the comfort of your home. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t feel guilty for deciding to do something else for Christmas. You are not a selfish person for wanting to spend your time doing things that you enjoy.
2.You are not a robot – It is totally fine to need a break if you’re hosting. Holiday hosting can get pretty exhausting. Hey, that rhymed. Anyhow, yes. Being a host, especially for the Christmas holidays, it is a big deal. And it is never the cooking or the decorating that makes it challenging, but the mingling with family. We’ve all been there and we’ve all had a moment when we wanted to just leave the house and run for as fast as we can. It’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up for going crazy. Just give yourself a break. You deserve it.
3.Don’t be afraid to say NO – It’s perfectly normal to need some time alone even when you’re visiting. Just because you are a guest at your family’s or your relative’s house, it doesn’t mean that you are available to talk 24/7. It is always easier to visit than to host but believe me, it is definitely not as easy as some would think. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to let everyone know that you need some rest and recharge.
4.Listen to what your gut says – It’s okay not to be okay with the way your family functions. The truth is, we all change. So it is pretty normal to no longer enjoy the same habits or routines you loved as a kid. The uncomfortable part is that this may sometimes come as a shock to those who raised you. Your parents may still see you as their little kid and your brother may still tease you the way he did when you were younger. But you know what? It is your right to address these discomforts and let them know that you’d like them to stop. Just because you were okay with these dynamics before doesn’t mean that you have to put up with them now.
The bottom line is… When you refuse to set your boundaries, you prioritize people’s needs over your own. And trust me, you cannot manage both your needs and people’s feelings. No matter how much you try, at some point, you will understand that you have to make a choice. It is either your happiness or theirs.
So, what’s it going to be?