can be hard AF for some of us. Knowing what drives you batshit crazy is one thing, but asserting yourself and making sure your family respects the limits you set is another. There is a line between politely pointing out what makes you uncomfortable and screaming you can’t stand to be in the same room with them. But where’s the line?
This is especially true for people with mental health issues. Learning to set boundaries is muy importante for anyone with a mental health condition. There is only so much you can do to make everyone happy, but putting your mental health first should be your top priority. Eating your Aunt Sheila’s tasteless latkes because if you don’t, she’ll pout all week should NOT be a priority.
The holidays are challenging AF for anyone, but when you have depression, anxiety, or any mental health condition, everything seems to intensify. If you have anxiety, it probably kicks into high gear during the holidays. If you’re depressed, Uncle Gary’s question about why you’re still single can send you into a shame spiral. Family gatherings and get-togethers can be overwhelming. Showing up and having to sit next to Aunt Sheila can make you want to chug a box of wine.
If you establish healthy boundaries during the holidays, you can save your sanity and maybe enjoy yourself! You can maintain your boundaries by understanding what you want and need and then communicate them to the fam. I know, it’s all so adult.
Taking time for yourself will help you from jumping off a cliff. There’s always something to do or someplace to be. Running ragged all over the place will wear you out. Be sure to take time for yourself. Go to a friend’s house, take a yoga class, smoke a joint, do whatever activity you do to keep calm. Trust me. Taking a time out is not rude. It will keep you from getting so stressed out and annoyed that you don’t snap and tell your cousin Miriam how bad her breath reeks.
You and your mental state come first. Whatever the situations are that trigger
you, avoid them. Yes, you may need to hide in the bathroom from your mother. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable or intolerable situation, you can leave! Think about what you can tolerate. Sometimes you can build up situations in your head that may not be that bad. But if going to the early morning, church service triggers you because you may run into an ex, don’t go. Or if the idea of a four-hour dreidel game triggers memories of losing your shit, you can reply thanks, but no thanks. If they get pissy, that’s on them. You can always suggest another activity like watching a movie, so you don’t have to talk to each other.
IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO KEEP THE PEACE
The holidays can bring out the worst in people. Somebody always drinks too much, or someone starts a fight over unresolved childhood issues. Then there’s tension, so somebody starts crying. What a mess. Trying to fix situations or change yourself to make everything ok is not your job. Putting the well-being of others ahead of your own can lead to an unmanageable and overwhelming situation. When you take care of yourself and make sure you are in a good place mentally, you can brush off the dysfunctional behavior of your maladaptive family.
LEAVE WHEN YOU WANT TO
Do not feel obligated to stay for the six hours of opening gifts. You are more than entitled to hang out for an hour or two and then leave when you’ve had enough. You do not owe anyone anything. You do not have to explain to anyone why you’re leaving early. It’s ok, even if you need to go on short notice. Your mental health is worth it. I like to tell people I’m having a bout of projectile diarrhea. That usually shuts them up.
STICK TO YOUR BOUNDARIES
You deserve to be respected, not only by those around you but by yourself. You are worth the time and effort it takes to maintain the boundaries you establish. Let others around you know about your boundaries, so they know they’re not allowed to ask why you’re still single or why they never see you.
Take care of yourself this holiday season. With boundaries, you can make it through the holidays without committing murder and start the new year with a bang! How do you set boundaries during the holidays? Let me know in the comments section because SHARING IS CARING!