How to have healthy boundaries during the holidays

I love the quote by Prentis Hemphill,

“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously”.

This quote speaks to the essence of what boundaries are; a way to show self-love. The dictionary definition of a boundary is “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent”. Boundaries can come in many shapes and forms. Boundaries communicate what’s okay and what’s not okay. Oftentimes, the first type of boundary that comes to mind are physical space boundaries. The boundaries that separate our bodies from another’s. Did you know that, in addition to, physical boundaries there are emotional boundaries, sexual boundaries, mental boundaries and time boundaries to name a few? Boundaries communicate what you want and need from those around you. Boundaries can be redefined, shifted and changed over time.

For some, the holidays can present opportunities for boundary crossing; both intentional and unintentional. You may find yourself around more people such as family, friends or co-workers.  The boundary crossings can be small or large and can be difficult to identify if you struggle with boundaries.

Where do we learn our boundaries?

Whether you can recognize boundaries for yourself and others can be impacted by a number of things such as family experiences, personal history, trauma and other factors. These factors can have an impact on the appearance of boundaries in your life. For some, that can set you up for healthy boundaries. For others, it may make things slightly difficult. Either way, it’s okay. You can always reconnect with what you want for yourself. 

To begin, I would invite you to list out the boundaries mentioned above and check in with yourself. Which ones are clear for you? Do you struggle with any? How do you want your boundaries to look? Also, are you able to honor your own boundaries? I would invite you to come back to your list periodical as a check -in with how you are doing. Remember boundaries can be hard for many reasons, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself struggling at times. You’re doing the best you can with what you know.

What do boundaries during the holidays sound like?

Boundaries during the holidays could sound like saying yes to the events and activities you can and want to attend and no to others. Also, if you are attending several events a time boundary could sound like, “I can come, but I have to leave at..”. Additionally, if conversations become uncomfortable an emotional boundary could sound like, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that”. These are a few examples of the many ways boundaries can be expressed.


As we approach the holiday season, it is important to be reminded that we all have wants and needs and deserve them to be respected. Even if you have had experiences that have made you question the respect that you deserve. If you need some additional support with your ability to identify and set your boundaries, connect with me to today as you move towards healthy boundaries with yourself and others. 

Be Well,

Ebony Skinner, LPC

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be or substitute treatment by a Licensed Professional Counselor.