Every year families gather together to celebrate the holidays. Too often this means a sense of impending doom or at least panic at the thought of spending time with our extended family. How can we enjoy ourselves without the anxiety? By establishing boundaries

To thine own-self be true

You know yourself best and you are responsible for your  mental health and happiness.  Be honest to single out your emotional triggers.

Speak up!

Let people know what you are willing to deal with, even if it’s just a pep talk with a friend or a journal entry to yourself to establish ground rules. You owe it to yourself to get this taken care of

Make a plan

Decide what you will do if boundaries are breeched.   Have a plan in mind. It doesn’t need to be confrontational.  Just know what you are going to do.

Sound the alarm

Tell your family where your boundaries lie.   You don’t have to make a formal announcement, but if your uncle makes the same tasteless remarks year end and year out, quietly let it be known that you won’t listen. Yes it may make some waves, but stick by your boundaries

Don’t lose your cool

Remember that you can’t control anyone’s reactions but yours.  Stay calm. Don’t be surprised if others react negatively to your new boundaries. Remember you are taking the first steps to better mental health.  You are allowed to put yourself first.