Setting Boundaries During COVID this Holiday Season

Covid-19 has challenged all of us to change and adapt amidst uncertainty. We are accustomed to conversation about the virus, working and/or learning from home, temperature checks and symptom questionnaires, never leaving home without a mask, physical distancing, and quarantining. In other words, COVID-19 has impacted nearly all aspects of our lives, especially our relationships and common interactions with others.

For many of us, the holidays can be a stressful time of the year. Add a worldwide pandemic, and perhaps you are especially nervous about the holidays and spending time with loved ones. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be unlike any other year as we consider keeping ourselves and those around us safe and healthy.

Before making plans for the holidays, it is important to consider your boundaries. Boundaries are the emotional, physical, psychological, and energetic limits we set to define our personal space.

Setting and sticking to boundaries can be a challenge because:

  • Boundaries require us to be honest and assertive with ourselves and others.
  • We fear what happens when we set and enforce boundaries.
  • We are people-pleasers, and setting boundaries is not about people-pleasing.
  • We have to cope with the fact that some people will not be okay with change, and they will push us to act as we did in the past.
  • It takes practice.

Setting boundaries during a pandemic and holidays may sound like:

  • “I’m not comfortable with social gatherings at this time. Maybe we can Facetime instead.”
  • “I’m going to wear a mask while we spend time together. Please wear one too.”
  • “I’m limiting my media consumption about COVID and politics to 15 minutes a day. Let’s talk about something else.”
  • “I’m not hugging people right now.”
  • “I’m going to stay home for the holidays this year because I’m not comfortable with traveling.”
  • “I’m not able to give everyone gifts this year because I haven’t been working. Maybe we could do a Secret Santa instead.”
  • “I listen to what scientists say about the virus, and I feel safe following the guidelines.”

What boundaries have you set with yourself or the people in your life? How will the holidays be different for you this year?

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