Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

“Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.” – Claudia Black

“Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.” – Claudia Black

The holidays are fast approaching. For many, this is a wonderful time of year full of magic and joy, for others, it is two straight months of stress followed by a January crash. Christmas parties, family dinners and don’t get me started on the credit card bill! It all adds up and can make us lose sight of the fun and magic this time of the year brings. If you are as tired of this as I am I hope you will take what I say to heart.

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What Are You making the Holidays About

Every year I hear complaining (and complain some myself) about not having time, spending so much money or feeling it went by before even getting to enjoy it. Think about your own experiences. Can you relate to any of these feelings?

It all comes down to getting caught up in obligation type thinking. I’m going to lay on some heavy truth here so please keep an open mind and consider these things:

  • Who is on your Christmas shopping list? Are these people you want to buy gifts for or people you feel you “should” buy gifts for?
  • What do you feel you need to spend on gifts? Do you participate in Black Friday? Is it because you enjoy it? Or is it for stuff?
  • What events do you attend and are they because you want to or because you are supposed to?
  • Do you participate in kid school fundraisers? Is it because they sell what you want or because it is a kid?

Just think about it for a second. We replace enjoying Thanksgiving with preparations of buying stuff. We replace thoughtful gifts with expensive gifts. We max credit cards to buy for people we hardly know. We say yes to things we don’t have time for… And all the while the season slips by without us enjoying it. Have you ever been to a mall around Christmas, or worse yet actually worked retail? It’s enough to suck the joy peace and cheer right out of you.

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Learning to Say “No”

If you want this year to be different, the solution is rather an easy one… learn to say “No”. We need to let go of the mentality that setting boundaries will make us a bad person. It may seem hard but here are some starting points:

  • Establish a budget early: Decide what you are willing to spend before the holiday starts. This will aid in making decisions about fundraiser spending, who to buy for and the amount of each gift.
  • Establish your to buy for list early: Let people know ahead of time that gifts will only be given to certain groups. If you are not going to buy for friends, just tell them. If you don’t want to buy for co-workers, don’t. If you don’t have to budget for every family member, do a family gift.
  • Establish Christmas gift lists early: Only buy with meaning and purpose. Parents especially will appreciate a little discussion before you show up with another toy they don’t need.
  • Establish personal time early: Looking ahead at the calendar and budget time for you or your personal family. Will you make every Friday family Christmas movie night? Will you schedule a day for Christmas lights? Plan it ahead of time and keep it.
  • Establish a priority list early: Are these certain family or friend events that happen yearly you love or hate? Make a decision ahead of time what things you are willing to go out of the way for and you are not.

Use this preparation as an aid to help you say no to the things that fall outside of what you are comfortable with. Remember no one is entitled to your time or money.

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The Meaning of Christmas

What do the holidays mean to you? We may all come from different cultures and religions, but we all have something about the holidays that are important. I encourage you to take this year to focus on that. Some benefits to this new thinking will include:

  • A focus on Self-care. For more on self-care refer to my blog: The Foundation of Self Care
  • Establishing healthy habits
  • Less stress and anxiety
  • Better money management
  • Setting a positive example to children about the meaning of the holidays
  • More time for other important things

Let’s make ourselves a priority this Holiday season!

In this blog, I used the example of a Charlie Brown Christmas. For those not familiar with it: The peanuts gang start with a complete commercial and getting mentality of Christmas. Charlie Brown struggles with this not feeling it reflects the true meaning of Christmas. Eventually, he decides to be true to himself and purchase a lonely and neglected tree for the holiday pageant feeling it deserves more them being abandoned. He is mocked for it causing him to finally ask what the meaning of Christmas is. His best friend Linus responds with the nativity story from the Bible. The group is moved and take that little tree, fix it up and make it beautiful. The moral being that Christmas is about love, not things.

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