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Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries
Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries During the Holiday

The holidays can be an enjoyable time with family members and an opportunity to reflect on our year, relax, and engage in some self-care. However, for many of us it may bring up family resentments, hurt, and long-standing conflict. Try as we may, we struggle to “keep the peace” between warring family members. Maintaining healthy holiday boundaries is something that allows us to keep our peace and sanity!

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that family members will not be in conflict. However, we can decide on the behaviour we are willing to accept from others and then communicate our healthy boundaries to them.

Steps for Maintaining Boundaries

The first step in maintaining healthy boundaries is to identify the behaviour that you are no longer willing to accept. For example, verbal abuse, anger, negative language, etc. Give yourself permission to no longer accept this.

The second step is to communicate your healthy boundaries in advance. Consider something like “I can’t wait to see you all and hear about your year, but I don’t think we should talk about politics, etc. this year as it upsets everyone.”

The third step is to practice saying “no” in a non-threatening manner. Use this whenever you need to restate your boundaries in the heat of the moment. It could sound like “I’m not prepared to talk about this now as it’s upsetting, how about you tell me about how XYZ is?”

The fourth step is to stay calm! Be direct and be prepared to restate your boundaries, clearly and succinctly. Remember, if you haven’t had this boundary in place or have not been able to hold the boundary in the past, then others’ will take some time to adjust to your new assertiveness.

The fifth and final step to maintaining healthy boundaries during holidays is to have an exit plan. Be prepared to walk away if all your best efforts to remain calm and restate your boundaries fail. Ask for support from others to do this and remind yourself you can only control your own behaviour, not others.

Finding Support

Sometimes the thought of trying to build these boundaries can be overwhelming or stressful in itself. You might not know where to begin or feel doubtful about the outcomes.

If you find yourself having these types of concerns, seeking help from a psychologist or support worker can be beneficial in assisting you to identify and develop what these five steps might look like for you as an individual. You can contact our clinic on 8979 5887 or email at admin@choicepsychology.com.au if you’d like to discuss booking an appointment.

Healthy Boundaries Checklist

  1. Identify behaviours or treatment that you no longer will accept.
  2. Communicate your healthy boundaries in advance.
  3. Practice saying “no” in a non-threatening manner.
  4. Stay calm, be direct, and be prepared to restate your boundaries.
  5. Have your exit plan and ask for support from a friendly face 😊

I wish you happy and peaceful holidays!

By Melissa Minney
Clinical Psychologist & Family Therapist
BPsych (Hons), MPsych (Clin), FCCLP, MAPS

Melissa Minney is a senior clinical psychologist and family therapist at Choice Psychology. Her approach to Family Therapy is holistic, engaging support from extended family, school staff, or other medical practitioners to develop the most beneficial treatment. She works with couples, families, children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of mental health and personal issues such as depression & anxiety, conflict separations, domestic violence, addiction, trauma, life adjustments, gender & sexual identity, developmental & learning disorders, and relationship issues.