Keeping Your Boundaries During the Holidays

The holidays are here! One of the most important parts of this busy season is self care. We get incredibly busy and often the most talked about part of Christmas is how frazzled people are from the shopping, wrapping, baking, writing out cards, attending plays and concerts, and figuring out how to pay for and do it all.

And what about folks who have none of those of things? For some, there’s none of all that activity. They may have no one close to them to buy gifts for or send cards to. And nobody buying gifts for them.

That is tough. This is a difficult time of year for many people. It’s a sincere struggle to keep afloat mentally. They’re bombarded for weeks with things they don’t have: money, presents, happy family, holiday parties, and a warm home full of goodies.

Whichever person you are – busy or wishing you were – you need to protect your mental health.

Exercise self care by taking breaks from the busy schedule. Actually schedule breaks for yourself like coffee with a friend or saying no to a bake sale and resting instead. The last thing you need is to get sick from all the stress, right?

Give yourself a break and remember you do not have to do everything. I have given up sending Christmas cards the past couple of years. I used to love doing it and I’d still like to, but I recognize that’s something I can let go and slide off my plate for now. Having social media to keep up with friends year-round has made it a little easier to take a Christmas card hiatus.

Remember the reason for the Season. It’s Jesus. It isn’t presents for us. It’s not beating yourself up because “you can’t afford Christmas.”  Christmas doesn’t cost anything, actually. I know what “affording Christmas” means, but remember that if you’re providing your children with love, attention, safety, and their needs are met, you’ve already given them everything. Don’t feel pressured by the world or expectations to max out your credit cards and spend what you can’t afford. Spend what you can afford, use coupon codes online, shop sales, shop throughout the year and spread out the spending, and do not feel like you have to spoil everyone for Christmas.

Easier said than done, but reduce your stress.  Stress makes you sick. Stress is bad for your physical, emotional, and mental health. This time of year, you need to especially protect all three. Use boundaries: Use them to decline invitations if it’s just too much. Use them to handle folks that are unkind, take advantage of you or are just plain difficult. (Some of those people might be relatives).

If you’re not able to celebrate with family or if you don’t have family, it’s imperative that you look out for yourself. This might be a very sad time for you and for that, I am truly sorry. The emphasis is heavily on family, gathering together, and relationships. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have value and a role in the Christmas season. You do. The fact that you are here, means that you are supposed to be here. 

One key to getting through the holidays and protecting your mental health is to get outside of yourself. Make efforts not to dwell on the fact that you might be alone. One excellent way to do that is to help others. There is a plethora of ways to help make someone’s season like playing Secret Santa for a family in need. Find out from your church or call one if you don’t have one, and see if you can adopt a family they know is in need.

Take presents to sick children in the hospital. Buy some cookies and other treats and take them to local police and fire stations or hospitals for the staff to show appreciation. Many of those folks will be working on Christmas.

Another great way to get outside of yourself and help others is to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. Serving there on Christmas Day is pretty much a bonus: you’re helping others and you’re surrounded by good people on Christmas.

Bottom line is it feels good to help others and doing so can help you not dwell on your own situation. Remember this as well: If you don’t have family to celebrate with, it doesn’t change your value and importance. You are still needed. You have so much in you to give and don’t ever sell that short.

You have purpose. Every person on the Earth has a specific and special purpose so do not give up on yours. You are here on purpose. Take care of yourself.

 

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