Holiday Family Anxiety and Boundaries: Part 3
In the previous posts from this blog series, I introduce the concept of holiday family anxiety as it correlates to childhood emotional neglect.
Maintaining family connections with unresolved childhood emotional neglect is exhausting and takes enormous energy. It's like running a marathon every day.
In families with unhealthy dynamics, the demands on children will continue to rise. Even though my clients have spent their entire lives trying to manage these growing expectations, it comes at the expense of their own needs and mental health. Eventually, family demands become unsustainable, and clients don't have enough energy to maintain healthy functioning.
Creating boundaries with your family of origin during holidays becomes a way to stop this burnout cycle and start new, more healthy ways of relating to yourself and others. Specifically, boundaries help you take some of this energy back and use it for healing and making decisions that no longer deplete your mental health. Below are three kinds of boundaries my clients find to be an easy way to start their healing journey.
One way to stop the burnout cycle is to physically spend less time with family members that contribute to your stress. Examples of physical boundaries during family gatherings include:
- Finding different lodging than your family's home during your visit
- Taking breaks during family events to run errands
- Limit your time around certain family members
Sometimes what feels most helpful to my clients is to take a break from family functions completely. This kind of break is always an option to consider. While, as a child, you might not have had a choice about how you spent your time, as an adult, you do.
Emotional boundaries can be helpful when physical limitations are not possible. These are easiest to practice in conversations by avoiding discussing anything significant about yourself with emotionally immature family members. Keeping conversations short and not sharing anything regarding your life maintains your self-respect. It also prevents you from the pain of your family members not listening, not understanding, or turning what you say against you.
Mental boundaries help you reframe the purpose of going to family gatherings. They focus on your time and attention on family members with who you feel safe and comfortable. Whether you play games with your nieces and nephews or help your cousin cook, these kinds of boundaries help protect you from harm from your family of origin while also offering possible connections with emotionally safe family members. Mental limitations also give you the distance from unhealthy family patterns and the space to see things objectively.
Therapy can help you decrease family anxiety during the holidays
The boundaries listed above are examples my clients often use to help reduce their holiday family anxiety. Taking small steps with limitations is okay, especially when making them and acting on them is a new concept for you and your family. Start with simple limits that help you recover from burnout, give you some time and energy back, and show self-respect. In the next post, I will conclude this blog series by looking at how the simple boundaries you make with family during the holidays positively impact all generations of your family.
Boundaries are healthy, but if you are recovering from childhood emotional neglect, they can also bring up many uncomfortable feelings. Therapy can help you manage these feelings while supporting you in maintaining new boundaries. Make an appointment today for your free consultation.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in Peoria, IL
The challenges of navigating family dynamics can make it difficult to create and maintain healthy boundaries. I understand this struggle and would be honored to provide in-person therapy and online support across the state of Illinois. You can start your therapy journey with Live Lekko by following these simple steps:
- Schedule your free consultation by texting or calling 217-402-7817
- Make your first therapy appointment at Live Lekko
- Start creating lasting, healthy boundaries!
Other Services Offered With Live Lekko LLC
At my therapy practice, I help with more than only anxiety. I understand there are a number of mental health concerns you may face. This is why I'm happy to also offer help with therapy for childhood emotional abuse, depression, and burnout. Other mental health services offered include counseling for women, grief, and people-pleasing. Since I offer online therapy in Illinois, no matter where you are, I am here for you. Get in contact with me today!