The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, which challenges our personal boundaries. Most people are getting ready for the holidays and many are also battling with the end of the school year.
The end of the school year has challenges for children of all ages. Some people have children who received their ATAR score and are pondering the course of their adult life–which course to choose, whether to go to university or TAFE, whether they should do a trade or take a gap year.
Other families have children going through major school transitions like moving from grade 6 to year 7 and/or changing schools. Parents may also be going through some major life changes: some parents are changing jobs in the new year and others are questioning their career and life trajectory as the new year fast approaches.
Then there are all the festivities work functions, bbq’s, family reunions, Christmas parties, and the list goes on! Some families may be preparing for trips or weekends away others are getting slammed wrapping up a busy work year. I am exhausted just thinking about it all! As our calendars fill up and start to burst at the seams, it’s important to take some time to reset/recommit to the one thing that helps keep us feeling balanced and sane: your boundaries.
Setting boundaries during this time feels incredibly difficult and yet is extremely important. If you’re not used to setting boundaries, it can be quite a challenge. But all it takes is practice.
Does this sound like you? The moment someone asks you to do something, you say YES even if you know you can’t do it or you know it will push you over the edge or maybe you didn’t even hear the question properly. It just seems easier to say you’ll do it and somehow you’ll work out how to do it later.
“It’s ok, I can finish the pavlova after work, then sew together the costume for the school presentation, sleep at 12, then get up at 5 to finish the pav, clean up and have it all ready before work…’’ sound familiar?
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The fear of letting people down
Saying no can fill us with shame. We may have an internal dialogue that says
‘’I’m not a good friend’’
‘’I’m not a good mother/father’’
‘’I can’t let the team down, what kind of team player would I be?’’
‘’Who are YOU to take a break?! ‘’
People who always say yes often base their worthiness on the approval of others. We think we need to keep them happy, it’s all about the kids, I need to do this for work. This is a sure way to empty your battery.
Setting boundaries is hard, but it will get you closer you are to being your most authentic self. It’s also brave. It takes courage to fight our internal dialogue and some deep-rooted fears about whether people will still like you or whether you will be rejected for saying no.
We need to prioritise and love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. We need to believe we are enough and not rely on the approval of others to feel worthy. Then we can start to say ‘’enough!’’
It’s important to think about the cost of saying YES all the time. What happens when we say yes to everything?
- We run out of battery
- It feeds resentment
My 5 tips for setting boundaries
Take a moment to think about it
There are so many demands placed on us during the holiday season, so when someone asks us can we attend this bbq, could we help repair a broken item, help them move house this weekend or could we make our famous pavlova, it’s ok to say, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.” We don’t need to say “YES!” straight away.
Have a few go-to sayings that you can use in times of stress or when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Like many things, saying no and setting boundaries takes practice. You can practice saying things like, “I can’t take that on right now.” or, “My plate is full at the moment.”
Have a personal mantra
I need something to get me through those awkward conversations when someone’s just asked me to do something I know I just can’t squeeze in. At that moment the whole world feels like it’s moving so fast and yet I can hear my thoughts with crystal clear audio, “Just say yes’’. In these moments I need a mantra to get me through it. “Lean into the discomfort, it’s ok to say no.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s crucial for my well-being.
Some other mantras you could use:
- ‘’It’s ok to say no, my self worth is more than the approval of others’’
- ‘’ I’m a great friend/mother/father etc, those who truly love me, want me to take care of myself’’
‘’You can sprint a marathon, I need to take it easy to make the distance’’
Keep track of your feelings
Whenever I’m laying in bed, with thoughts swirling in my mind, with my internal voice swearing like a sailor, I grab a post-it note from my bedside table and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I haven’t looked after myself when I’m tired, overwhelmed and taking on too much i.e not setting boundaries.
Make self-care a priority
The word self-care has been capitalised and labelled as a luxury item and people think it means a fancy day spa or a meditation retreat. If you do those things, that’s totally fine. But true self-care is not a luxury item or package, think of it as recharging your phone battery, restocking your fridge or filling your car up with petrol. You NEED it to keep going or your phone will switch off, your fridge will be empty and your car will probably stop on a busy freeway when you’re already running late and rushing. Check out my self-care tips here
You can see that having good personal boundaries are really important for our sanity and surviving these busy times of the year. I hope these tips help guide you towards a more balanced holiday season. If you’re finding it hard to set strong boundaries to get in touch with me for a consult.