Yikes! We’re officially in December. Is your calendar booked yet? I know mine is getting close, so what better time to chat about healthy holiday boundaries. Don’t leave for fear of the B word just yet! Boundaries don’t have to be as scary or rigid as you might think…

I recommend doing a mini self assessment first to figure out what your priorities are this season. And I’m not talking about your to do list! I’m really talking about caring for your and your family’s mental, physical, and spiritual needs. This will require some reflection without distractions, comparisons, or outside influences.

I’m also not saying it’s easy! This time of year is super fun and exciting, but can quickly become overbooked and just plain overwhelming. So what’s truly special and provides the most value to you and your family? Pulling out the handmade ornaments from years gone by or having a gingerbread house competition? Or maybe piling in the car to see the twinkling lights?

All families have unique traditions and it’s your job to protect them! I love this suggestion from a fellow counselor friend: At the beginning of the season, pull out your planner and pencil in the events and activities that are most important to you. Then, make a conscious effort to schedule pockets of self care and QT with the family. This could be grabbing takeout and enjoying a Christmas movie at home. By doing this, you’ve given yourself permission to say “no” when another event comes up. Your response can simply be, “Thanks so much for the invite, but unfortunately my schedule won’t allow me to be there.”

Also important… knowing your needs and your limits. How many things can you successfully accomplish in a day without feeling completely depleted? What personal interactions can be draining? These interactions can be with coworkers, friends and even family. So maybe instead of submerging yourself for several hours or days in these relationships, give good QT for as long as you can maintain the quality. This might be 2 hours or 2 nights. And fear not, you’re not alone my fellow introverts! We recharge our batteries and gain energy from ALONE time J

Be aware that you might experience some push back when trying to put boundaries into place, which is perfectly normal. Change is hard! But as my BFF Brene Brown says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”  So love yourself and let your support people provide encouragement and accountability. Just think, the next few weeks CAN be fun, fulfilling, and freeing.

Grace Hallock, MA, LPC-MHSP (temp), NCC, is the founder of R.E.A.L. Counseling Services in Brentwood, TN. She’s passionate about restoring and empowering others to embrace authenticity and cultivate lasting change. Learn more about Grace’s counseling services HERE.