My self-care guide to creating healthy boundaries around the holidays
Updated: Feb 8
In the thick of the holiday season, I’ve had my fair share of dinners and gatherings, receiving sweet holiday cards from family and friends, and finalizing plans for Christmas and the New Year.
While it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also a time I hear a lot of people say how tired, stressed, and strapped they feel. I totally get it - as much as I absolutely love the holidays - it can also cause stress and anxiety for me personally.
For the past several years, I’ve had a sudden dip right after the holiday. Meaning, major holiday blues that left me feeling sad, tired, and an overall sense of feeling depleted. And until the past year or two, I couldn’t seem to figure out why or how to best manage it.
The good news is, I have figured out and accepted that I get this way, and it’s totally OK. It’s an intense time that can stir up a lot of emotions and feelings. As much as I love the holidays, I have learned that self-care and creating healthy boundaries is the key to experiencing the season in the best way possible and not turning into a total mess come January.
If you can relate and need to figure out ways to better manage your holiday health (inside and out), consider the following ideas.
When it comes to your finances...Make a budget for holiday gifts and entertaining and (try) to stick to it as much as possible. That way, you have a plan, and there’s no feeling guilty post-holiday about what you spent.
When it comes to your time...Have you been invited to a bunch of dinners and parties? Don’t feel obligated to have to say yes to it all. Instead, only go to the events you really care about, and if you feel bad for not seeing certain people, commit to making time for them in the new year when your social calendar calms down a bit.
When it comes to exercise...If you already have an exercise routine, great - keep it going through the holidays as much as you can. If you don’t, consider starting a new routine slowing NOW, even if it’s just 15 minutes here and there or taking a brisk walk around the block. With the holidays comes a lot of excess food and beverage, so keeping your body moving through it all will help you feel your best as you eat, drink, and be merry!
When it comes to all that delicious food...I love indulging in all the yummy food around the holidays - the dinners with friends, sweet treats, and big family meals. I’m all for enjoying oneself during special occasions, just consider which foods make you feel good versus zap your energy. For example, red meat makes me feel a bit sluggish and can wreak havoc on my sleep, so while I will still enjoy it, I just do so in moderation.
When it comes to gift-giving...As I mentioned before, create a budget and stick to it! But beyond thought, consider more sustainable gift-giving. No one really needs more stuff that accumulates dust in their homes. Instead, give someone your time, an experience, a delicious meal, or a consumable gift like a bottle of wine or chocolates. Another really thoughtful idea is to donate to a charity in someone’s name - we did this last year with my husband’s family, and everyone loved it!
When it comes to your energy...Consider what zaps your energy and drains you. Maybe it’s a particular activity, person, or place. Don’t feel guilty if you need to bow out of a family activity that always drains you and leaves you feeling depleted afterward or that you want to limit your visit to your Aunt’s house. Your health (including mental!) is super important, and when you’re feeling zapped or down, it can make it difficult to really enjoy and thrive during the holiday season.
When it comes to your thoughts...The holidays can surface a lot of thoughts and feelings, and sometimes they don’t always serve us. Maybe your mind goes back to a negative experience you had around the holiday season that makes you frustrated, angry, or sad. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and know that they will pass. Then, turn your focus to something that makes you feel good - like a good book, movie, or conversation with a friend that’s a great listener.
What other self-care tips or boundaries have you created to make your holiday season more harmonious? Share below!