Many people hear the word 'boundaries' and equate it with something like 'walls' or worse 'selfishness.' So, for many of us, the idea of boundaries may feel like the exact opposite of what we want around the holiday season. But I believe that healthy and kindly held boundaries are exactly what we need to make this holiday season a time of warmth, nurturing, generosity and rest.
I've highlighted 5 important areas that I think deserve an extra dose of mindfulness during this time of the year. In my experience, when you feel into these areas and figure out where your boundaries are with each, you can create a holiday experience that is deeply meaningful and fulfilling.
Knowing what you're comfortable spending and noticing the messages that push you out of your comfort zone.
In this season of gift giving and holiday bargains it is so easy to spend beyond our means. This is especially true if gifts is one of your Love Languages, or you know it's the language of someone special in your life. Our hearts can feel overflowing and we can express our love by spending on special, thoughtful and sometimes expensive gifts. There is nothing wrong with gifting - far from it! Gifting is actually one of my favorite parts of the season. But if you're like me, you've sometimes felt the shame hangover from having spent beyond your means. Everything around us at this time of year sends the message "if you really love that person you will buy them this AMAZING thing!" We need to be with ourselves in a mindful way and respect our own limits of what we can give. Just because you have limited dollars, doesn't mean you have limited love or generosity! Look at some of the other ways you can show you care - thoughtful cards, home baked treats, an activity to create a special memory together - there are many ways to make this time of year memorable and meaningful without breaking the bank.
If gifting isn't your thing, the expectations of the season can bring up other anxieties. What should I get? Will they like it? What if I chose the wrong thing? If your intention and desire is get them something they really love - tell them that! And ask them for a few suggestions.
Feeling into who you want to spend your time with and how you want to spend it.
Time is a tricky thing to navigate during the holidays. Little time off, many people to visit, travel and more can make things feel rushed and stressful. It feels like there's never enough time to do everything that needs to be done. Many of the things that are meant to feel celebratory and festive can end up feeling like obligations. Bring mindfulness to your time this holiday. Make sure you are carving out time for things that you value and that help you feel fuller - maybe that's 20 minutes for a quiet walk alone, or making sure you set a date to have a holiday celebration with close friends once the rush of the season is over.
Making sure you recharge so you can keep connecting
Energy is a tough thing to be mindful of sometimes. We have the catch-all of 'feeling tired' and if you ask most folks, we never get the chance to stop feeling tired. It has become a way of life for many of us. Most of us also could list a few things off the top of our heads that help us feel recharged - catching up with a friend, a quiet moment in the backyard, a snuggle with our pet. Being mindful of your energy doesn't mean you have to have the luxury of a full spa day or a 12 hour night of sleep or a week long Hawaiian vacation (although all those things sound deliciously recharging). It's about bringing more mindfulness to the things that help you feel more grounded and more full in smaller, simpler ways, and making an effort to bring more of those things into your experience.
4. Conversation Topics
Knowing how to speak up with you want to and how to exit when you need to.
Whooooweee. This one is a biggie right about now. There is so much to disagree on and so much side-taking happening around us at the moment. The holidays are a time when we often are visiting people and places outside of our usual bubble of comfort. This makes this time full of incredible opportunities to share and hear other sides of things - and it also means you'll have moments of needing to exit a conversation or steer clear of a topic that you just don't want to engage with. Here's just a few ideas for ways to do both:
Listen and ask questions about what they've expressed and what it means to them. Things like - Why is this issue important to you? How to you think the current plan will resolve the issue? How to you expect they will do that? Do you ever worry about.....x?
Express your feelings and opinions in a personal way - avoid lecturing. I feel worried about the impact on myself if x, y z. I'm concerned about my close friends who... I think that approach to the issue would really hurt some people I care about. I value x, and I worry that isn't being taken into account in this plan.
Be kind and direct. Name what is happening and what you want to do. Thank the person for wanting to talk with you. "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me on this, I think we have very different views and I worry that if we continue discussing it, we will hurt or upset each other. I'd like to change topics."
5. Tradition and Ritual
Knowing what makes this season special for YOU and making that a priority.
Sometimes it's the smallest things that make this time of year special. That one ornament that was your grandmother's hung at the top of the tree. That cookie recipe that your grandfather passed down. Drinking hot chocolate when it's cold out. Reading or telling special stories. Or maybe breaking free of the expected traditions that don't work for you and creating something new! Whatever way you celebrate and whichever traditions feel right for you, I hope you can find your own path this holiday season.
All my very best wishes for a fulfilling holiday season and a happy New Year!