Protecting boundaries during the holiday season

The holidays can be great, allowing us to have time for family, friends and food. However, sometimes the holidays can add extra pressure on ourselves. Expectations to be there for so many others and to try patch up the holes in staffing.

Buy everyone the perfect present. Make a great potato salad and roast a deliciously seasoned ham. Making time for that family Christmas photo, puting up the decorations… All while being rostered to work Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve!

It’s little wonder we can feel overwhelmed and tired financially, emotionally and physically during Christmas and New Years.

How can we protect our boundaries professionally and personally during the holidays?

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Why is it so hard to say “no”?

  • Fear of upsetting or hurting others
  • Wanting to please people
  • Feeling needed by work, responsible for lack of staffing
  • Wanting to help
  • Guilt at saying “no”
  • Worried it may negatively affect our careers
  • Family commitments
  • Lack of practice

What are the effects of always saying yes?

  • Develop resentment – including towards others
  • Increased risk of burnout
  • Can be taken advantage of
  • Strain on personal relationships
  • Feel selfish when using boundaries
  • It actually makes other people less responsible
Photo by Dawit on Unsplash

Drawing boundaries professionally

  • Clearly define your role – what is nonnegotiable?
  • Speak with your education supervisor or a trusted manager for help in drawing boundaries
  • If you’re rostered over the holidays, make fun plans for your days off
  • Say “no” to requests if it’s not required (e.g. you’re not rostered or on sick cover)
  • When not working go offline – no rechecking documentation remotely or constant messages, trust the team rostered on
  • Keep time for yourself

Setting boundaries personally

  • Say “no” to certain social invitations, we can’t do it all
  • Set time limits for events
  • Keep the x-mas budget clear – “this year we can contribute x amount” to that group present or stick to the budget when out shopping
  • End unwanted conversations – e.g. asking about why you’re not engaged yet or if you’re pregnant?
  • If you can’t make that perfect homemade ham, buy something to contribute or let them know what you can comfortably give
  • Protect time for yourself
  • Ask for help when needed
Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Benefits of clear boundaries

  • Alleviate stress
  • Increase autonomy
  • Reduce risk of burnout
  • Less anger and resentment
  • Improve self-esteem and wellbeing
  • Meet your needs
  • Increased time for yourself and what you enjoy
  • Benefits your relationships
  • Ability to work sustainably

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