Written by Samantha Wall, LCSW
Edited by Joe DeNoon
Holidays can be a difficult time for many reasons, one being we are faced with both addressing and challenging dynamics that we tend to avoid during the year. In the previous blog, Francine Baffa gave some great techniques on how to approach returning home for the holidays and coping with family holiday stress. Francine discussed the importance of creating a plan to support ourselves during the holiday season, as well as working on setting boundaries with others. Creating a plan and an intention to set boundaries is so important because the holidays can be so taxing. We need to set aside time for taking care of our own needs, but this can also be so difficult.
Creating boundaries and a plan to take care of yourself is the first step in implementation, but it can be very difficult to keep when others don’t like the boundaries you have set. Whether that is your job asking you to work overtime because you aren’t going home, your mother wanting you to do ‘just one more holiday activity’, or trying to plan holiday activities for your child, these are all situations that can disrupt your routine and break the boundaries you have set out for yourself. If it is a good boundary, you will usually get pushback from someone. “You did this last year!” “Just one more thing!” “I can’t believe you wouldn’t do this!” These are all things that you can hear when you are setting a good boundary for yourself and others. You could be saying these things to yourself, or someone else could be saying them. Either way, you hear them because change is uncomfortable. Prioritizing our own needs along with others’ can seem foreign and selfish if you are used to prioritizing others’ needs.
Sticking to our routine and holding to our boundaries can also take energy, so how can we hold ourselves accountable during the holiday season? As always, acknowledging and validating our feelings about the situation is so powerful. It is uncomfortable to make changes, and it can be difficult to prioritize our own needs. Acknowledging these emotions can be a way we increase our ability to tolerate our uncomfortable feelings while sticking to our plan. Another way we can hold ourselves accountable is to have an accountability buddy! Each of you shares your plans and boundaries for the holiday season, and you keep each other accountable, support each other when the plan is hard to stick to, and discuss how to best support each other during the holiday season. When we do something with another person, it can help motivate us to keep going when it gets hard. The last thing we can do is prioritize being gentle with ourselves, holidays can bring up so many emotions, and although it can be such a fun time of year, it can come with grief, loss, frustration, guilt, and so much more. Try to give yourself space to experience a variety of emotions versus pressuring yourself to enjoy this time of year.
What can be an intention you make to take care of yourself this holiday season?