How to Set Effective Boundaries During the Holidays


The fall and winter holidays are upon us, and many people have visited their trusted psychologist in Littleton to ask “how can I set boundaries with my relatives?” You love your family (at least, most of them!), and you want to have a good time with relatives during the holiday season , but how can you accomplish this feat at the busiest time of year while still having time for yourself? Read on to find out about why boundaries are important, how to set them, and how to stick to them.

Boundary suggestions

One of the biggest complaints that people bring to counseling in Highlands Ranch is that they do not have enough time to do all the things their visitors want to do, take care of family and household, and maybe keep up with work, especially for busy professionals. For this reason, setting boundaries on your time and energy is important. For example, letting grandma know that you’d love to go shopping with her, but you are expected to be at work until 3 p.m., is perfectly reasonable. Likewise, if you are invited out, consider it perfectly fine to mention to your party that you will need to leave by a certain time to meet other obligations. Other good ideas for boundary-setting include how far or long you can drive (safety concern!), how much time you can socialize versus taking time for yourself (showering, relaxing, connecting with your partner, etc.), and how much you want to spend financially. By knowing yourself, you can communicate these needs effectively.

Why set boundaries?

Just like boundaries in sports games make the game more fun (instead of a wild free-for-all), boundaries make your life better . Many couples struggle when family visits, and find out in couples therapy that both wished they could have spent more time with one another. You are likely to find that you have more energy, less resentment, and genuinely enjoy yourself better. Plus, taking the time, space, and setting the boundaries you need keeps you from burning out and getting angry at your loved ones just for being around you.

What if I feel mean?

For those who are used to meeting everyone else’s needs first, it can be easy to feel mean or harsh when setting boundaries. Here are some examples of responses you can give when someone questions your boundaries:

“Self-care is one of my top priorities so I can be the (dad, sister, friend, granddaughter, grandfather, etc.) I can be.”

“Remember last year when I was grouchy and snappy all day? Time alone makes me nicer.”

“I love hanging out with you, but quiet time is great for the brain. Would you like to borrow a book or some headphones to listen to music?”

“I can’t right now, but I am looking forward to being refreshed when I see you (at the next planned time.”

Remember, you need to put on your “oxygen mask” before assisting others! If you can’t seem to make boundaries stick, considering seeking out an experienced psychologist in Littleton to help!



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