How To Set Boundaries With Family Over The Holidays

Despite what we see on commercials and Hallmark movies, spending time with family members during the holidays can be super stressful for some folks. Since we only see some of those relatives a couple of times a year, we’re not used to the challenges that can come up with different personalities, beliefs and values.

From backhanded compliments to intrusive questions and unwanted comments, family holiday gatherings can quickly become tense and unpleasant. One way to protect your mental and emotional well-being? Setting boundaries. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but these therapists’ tips can help.

  • If you know a topic will be controversial, don’t bring it up - As tempting as it may be to share a bit of political news or family gossip at the dinner table, if you know it’s going to stir things up with your family, counselor Leigh McInnis advises, “don’t go there.” Therapist Laura Sgro says setting a boundary might sound like, “I’m really excited to see you this Thanksgiving, but I want to let you know I’m not willing to talk about politics. If we get into that discussion, I’ll have to excuse myself.”
  • If a relative oversteps, consider the source of their comment - Parents and loved ones may still feel like they know what’s best for you, which may manifest as unsolicited advice or intrusive questions. If you think they’re coming from a place of care, you may want to say something that validates their concern while setting boundaries. Mental health counselor Alyssa Mairanz suggests responding with something like, “I appreciate your concern, but I’m not comfortable talking about my body.”
  • Come up with coping strategies - Make a list of healthy self-care tools to help you deal with any boundary-violating that comes up. That could be anything from journaling to going on a walk to calling a trusted friend if a situation triggers you.
  • Build breaks into all that togetherness - Your family may want to spend every waking moment with you to maximize quality time, but it’s okay to plan some time apart in between to take care of yourself and prioritize your own mental well-being.

Source: Apartment Therapy

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