As the seasons change and the weather starts to cool down, we are quickly approaching that time of year again. The holidays! As exciting as the holiday season can be, there also comes additional stress. The holidays can be emotionally, physically, and psychologically challenging. From extra expenses, gifts, to traveling, shuffling around from event to event, hosting, and spending extended time with our families, it can be a lot. Even in the happiest and loving families, the holiday pressures can add up and pose some challenges. In moments of stress it may feel like we don’t know what to do. Do we freak out? Sit silently with our discomfort? One thing we can do is create and set boundaries around our time, space, and energy.

Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, defines healthy boundaries as “simply our lists of what’s okay and not okay.” It is essential to understand what healthy boundaries mean so you can practice setting boundaries this holiday season. This can help you find peace within yourself and help you avoid uncomfortable situations and feelings. Boundaries are important because they improve relationships and allow for growth in self-confidence. Without healthy boundaries we risk spending our time, money, and energy making other people happy without considering our own needs. We’ll end up exhausted, resentful, and overwhelmed.

Below are some helpful ways you can set and hold boundaries with your family and friends during the holidays

  1. Know your limits
    • Most of us need to set limits with ourselves to ensure our health. This can include creating a budget and sticking to, knowing what you’re capable of taking on, or sticking to a set amount of time spend with certain people or on certain activities.
    • We also should be aware of our limits with others. This can involve telling others how you want to be treated or what you expect of them. This can even letting others know that certain topics of conversation are off limits.
  1. Saying “no”
    • Sometimes simply saying “no” is all we need to do if we don’t have the energy to explain. Saying “no” can be difficult for those that are people pleasers or are afraid of disappointing others. It’s important to keep in mind that you can say “no”, it lets others know what you are capable of or are not capable of taking on. You can say “no” because you simply don’t want to do something, you’re tired, or you feel anxious.
  1. Take the time you need
    • It’s important to keep in mind that its okay to take a break if you need it. If you’re hosting and need a minute alone, that is perfectly normal and okay. If you’re a guest and feel overwhelmed by not being able to be by yourself, it’s okay to take the time you need to recharge.
    • A healthy boundary regarding this may be feeling empowered to skip, go late, leave early, or drive your own car to holiday parties


By, Amanda Navarra, MHC intern