Setting Boundaries this Holiday Season: Family Differences and Ensuring Well-Being


Family Stress

For many individuals, the holiday season allows us to reconnect with traditions from childhood, loved ones whom we haven’t seen for a long period of time, and places that we used to call home-which makes way for feelings of comfort and warmth to move through us. However, many individuals may have an entirely opposite experience: Instead, the holidays evoke feelings of stress or disconnection, due to disagreements and tensions among family members. When this happens, it is important to discover how to set personal boundaries, so that you can ensure that you are only allowing yourself to be surrounded by kindness.


What is Boundary Setting?

What is boundary setting? Boundary setting is the act of setting parameters/guidelines/rules for how you wish to be treated. These guidelines can change and adapt based on the people you are with or the situation  you find yourself in. What is important is that you listen to yourself, and what you need to do in order to feel safe.


How Can We Set Boundaries? 

For example, if you have family members that have different core values or ideologies from you, spending a gathering with them can cause arguments if personal boundaries are not set. A boundary can look like leaving a discussion that reminds you of painful experiences, communicating your concerns openly, avoiding certain topics of conversation, bringing a support person to the space, even reducing the amount of time you spend with people who impact your self-esteem. Or, it can look like removing yourself from the environment entirely and choosing to create space for your well-being and your beliefs.


How Can Counseling Help? 

Setting boundaries is not simple, and it can be harder to set boundaries with family members than with any other group of people. This is because feelings of loyalty, previous happy memories, or high expectations can place pressure on ourselves to excuse bad behavior. Counseling can help you identify these complex feelings, so you can determine your values and how we wish to be treated.

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Phil Glickman

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Wellness Road Psychology

A leading provider of mental health services, offering a range of evidence-based treatments to help our clients improve their mental wellbeing.

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