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April 20, 2024
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TherapyWorks | Navigating the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and togetherness. However, it can also be a period of stress and overwhelm, especially when it comes to managing expectations and obligations. Setting boundaries is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance and ensuring a positive and enjoyable holiday experience for yourself and your loved ones.

Why Boundaries Are Important

Boundaries are crucial for maintaining healthy relationships, promoting self-care and establishing a sense of personal well-being. They serve as guidelines that define the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, actions and expectations we have for ourselves and others in our lives. Boundaries are positive and help foster healthy relationships and communication. 

Now that we understand what boundaries are, and why they are important, here are some practical tips on how to establish and communicate boundaries during the holiday season.

Define Your Priorities

Take some time to reflect on your priorities for the holiday season to identify what truly matters to you and your loved ones and set your intentions for the season. Whether it’s spending quality time with family, engaging in meaningful traditions, or taking some personal time for self-care, clarifying your priorities will serve as a foundation for setting effective boundaries.

Learn to Say No

Understanding your limits and learning to comfortably say no is essential to maintaining your boundaries. Protect your mental wellbeing by politely declining commitments that don’t align with your priorities. Saying no is a powerful tool for preserving your energy and maintaining balance.

Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is key to establishing and maintaining boundaries. Share your thoughts and expectations with your family and friends in a respectful and open manner. Let them know what you are comfortable with and what might be challenging for you during the holidays. Having an open dialogue helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Create a Realistic Schedule

Not overbooking yourself will help you enjoy the holiday season without feeling rushed or stressed. Start by plugging in nonnegotiable events. Then add in those that bring you the most joy. Anything else you can happily say no to. Don’t forget to allow for downtime and relaxation.

Set Gift Giving Expectations

Gift giving can be a significant source of stress during the holidays. Establish expectations with your family and friends regarding gift exchanges. Consider alternatives such as drawing names for a gift exchange, setting a budget, or focusing on handmade and thoughtful gifts. This can alleviate financial strain and promote a more thoughtful approach to giving.

Know When to Take a Break

If the holiday season becomes overwhelming, it’s OK to take a step back and recharge. Whether it’s taking time to unplug from social media, take a short walk or meditate, listen to your body and mind. Taking breaks can help you maintain your energy levels and approach the holidays with a refreshed perspective.

Setting boundaries during the holidays is a valuable skill that contributes to a more enjoyable and fulfilling celebration. By reflecting on priorities, communicating openly, learning to say no and establishing realistic expectations, you can create a holiday season that aligns with your values and brings joy to both yourself and those around you. 

Remember, the holidays are a time for connection and celebration, and setting boundaries allows you to savor these moments to the fullest.


Maaliea Wilbur, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is Founder and CEO of TherapyWorks. For more information, visit mytherapyworks.com.

Maaliea Wilbur
Maaliea Wilbur
Maaliea Wilbur, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is Founder and CEO of TherapyWorks. For more information, visit mytherapyworks.com.

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