Maintaining Boundaries During the Holidays
With Thanksgiving tomorrow and the December holidays just around the corner, a sense of excitement and anticipation can begin to rise this time of year. The excitement is palpable with decorations, parties, and long nights that invite more time spent indoors with loved one, but this time of year can also be stressful and overwhelming. Many people are traveling and/or spending time with others, whether that be their family of origin, chosen family, in-laws, friends, or alone, and there can be conflicting feelings around this time of year if we do not align with what the holidays stand for themselves. However you end up spending the holidays, celebrating them or not, it can be triggering and can even feel like we’re reliving old stories, calling for us to maintain our boundaries.
This can happen to me when I feel like I am disconnected from myself and out of my routine, which often happens when traveling to be with family. So, over the years I’ve adopted some practices and tools that help me stay grounded, and take time for pause so that I can make the most of this time and indulge in the connection of shared experiences with loved ones the best I can. I’ll be spending this long holiday weekend with my partner’s family in Philadelphia and heading out to California to be with my family for a couple weeks in December. I am so looking forward to some quality time with both of our families and connecting with friends, but you better bet I’ll be taking a page out of my own book and using most, if not all, of what I share below to ensure I’m taking care of myself and showing up in a way that feels good to me.
TAKE ALONE TIME FOR YOURSELF :: Sounds simple enough, but this can be hardest thing to do when around family - especially when staying with family, but it can truly transform your entire experience. Make a point to spend some time by yourself every day. This can be the same thing each day, or look different each time. For me, it usually varies. One day it could be a solo walk around my hometown neighborhood or on the beach [even better if it’s barefoot on the earth - see my post about grounding]. Another day it could be taking a yoga class. Another time it could be 10 minutes of meditation before even leaving the bedroom. And you can get creative with this. What if it’s a busy day of family cooking? Well, there’s almost always something someone forgot to get and someone has to do a last minute run to pick it up. Volunteer to be that person! Even when you thought you’d get absolutely no time to yourself, now you have a little outing that’s all your own. I think you get the picture - alone time is so important when we are around others for extended amounts of time whether you absolutely love the time spent together, or it feels a bit of an obligation. Time alone allows us to check in with where we’re at, what we need, and how we can give that to ourselves. So, make it a priority this time of year and always!
SLEEP + REST :: This may be obvious, but I think we can always use a reminder. Between holiday parties, travel, hometown friend reunions, and late nights talking with family after big meals, it can be tempting to stay up later than usual this time of year, or at least I know it can be for me. I think it’s important to indulge in this in moderation if it feels fun and joyful for you, but while also being in tune to our own body’s boundaries and limits. Not getting enough sleep is a sure way to run down our immune systems, natural energy stores, and our patience, all of which we very much need to support us this time of year. For me 8+ hours of sleep is the minimum for me to feel functional. To truly thrive, I usually need a little extra, so I get to bed earlier or sleep in some when I can because I know that I’ll enjoy the celebratory times so much more when I’m rested.
CARRY A CRYSTAL/STONE [OR 2] :: I love minerals. I’ve collected stones, geodes, and crystals for as long as I can remember. I resonate deeply with them when they’re the right ones for me energetically, but there is also some magic in carrying around something that can remind you of who you are in any moment or situation. During the holidays, I like to keep a small crystal in my pocket or purse to tangibly hold on to undercover when dealing with difficult situations. It’s in those moments when you find yourself in a dreaded conversation about opposing political views, an argument with your parents or sibling(s), or being treated as your teenage self rather than who you are today that we need a grounding force and reminder of who we are and who we’ve worked so hard to evolve into. Here are some recommendations for crystals that may provide you with the support you need:
Rose quartz for self-love and compassion
Hematite or black tourmaline for protection from intense, potentially attacking energies that aren’t our own
Clear quartz for seeing situations clearly and big picture perspective
Citrine for calling in joy, celebration, and the energy of happiness
There are many more and these are simply my interpretation of how these minerals work with me, so trust which ones you are called to and see how they work for you. At the very least, hold them in your hand when you need to remember who you are in a situation and return to the present moment.
FORGIVE YOURSELF :: Last but not least, remember to forgive yourself if you slip up and respond to situations in ways you may prefer not to. The likelihood of being triggered and acting in ways you may rather not act is high. So be nice to yourself if/when that does happen. There’s nothing like sleeping in the bedroom you had as a child or teenager around the people who raised you and you grew up with to bring out some old patterns and behaviors. This will happen because we’re human, so look at any slip ups as just that, slip ups. Take a moment to see if there’s any message as to why it happened [don’t stress this too much], forgive yourself, and move on. Easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot!
What I’ve outlined here is pretty simple and what I think the best part is, is that most of it only has to do with you! My personal practices and tools have become simpler and simpler over the years, since you never know when you’re going to need them and it’s helpful when they are not dependent on time, space, or a specific material object. If you feel you need some extra support this time of year, I’m here to hold space for you and I have some availability for private Breathwork healing sessions through December 21st, when I’ll be closing my calendar through the end of the year.
Wishing you a weekend of celebrating all that you are grateful for and acknowledging all that it took to receive what you so appreciate and love.