When it comes to the holidays, sometimes there is nothing but warm and fuzzies… and sometimes there is stress and conflict. If you’re facing a bit of the latter, it may be time to create healthy boundaries in order to protect your mental and emotional health.

person on walk alone


1. Remember that it’s okay to say ‘no’ to things that don’t feel right.

The holiday season can be filled with family and friends, and while this is beautiful, sometimes it unintentionally causes us to bend over backwards for the ones we love. If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity because you want to be nice, do the ‘right thing,’ or not disappoint anyone—stop!

Remember that it’s okay to say ‘no,’ especially if something doesn’t feel right or healthy, or if you simply feel overwhelmed. You are not any less of a sibling/daughter/son/father/mother/person etc. if you don’t go to a holiday party, don’t buy a certain gift, or don’t bide by a specific family ‘rule’ or tradition.

2. Establish rules for what’s ‘off-limits.’

If there’s something that you’re working through, dealing with, or struggling to overcome, it may be beneficial to create healthy boundaries in terms of what your friends and family can talk to you about.

If you’re very sensitive about a breakup, for example, ask if that relationship can be ‘off-limits.’ If you feel very self-conscious about weight gain, request that conversations about body image, workouts, or counting calories happen when you’re not around.

PS: This doesn’t make you rude or selfish; this is self-care.

3. Schedule out intentional time for yourself.

In the flurry of holiday activities, family get-togethers, friend outings, parties, and shopping, it may be very difficult to make time for yourself. If this sounds like you, be sure to set aside time for being alone. Whether that’s a 5AM workout (schedule your session right now!), a manicure, a walk on the beach, or simply time with Netflix or a good book, take that time.

You deserve it, and it’s necessary for your health.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and fitness enthusiast located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway and founder of Be A Light LLC, a remote writing coaching/tutoring/editing services company.


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