Holiday Boundaries: Self-Care

The Christmas Season is looming, and that means our schedules and minds will soon overflow with never-ending lists and momentary panic attacks.

  • When was that party at school I volunteered to make cookies for?
  • How much do we spend on each kid?
  • Is this Christmas tree even going to fit in our living room?
  • Do I have enough lights for this tree?
  • If we don’t put the lights on the house, will the kids be thoroughly disappointed?
  • Do we still get gifts for our parents?
  • How can we organize our schedule for Christmas to see everyone?
  • When was the Christmas program at church again?
  • Was I supposed to do something about that?
  • Did I commit to hosting New Year’s Eve again?
  • Where did my kids say they were going on New Year’s Eve?
  • Did I give them a curfew?
  • Crap, did I put gas in the car…
Stuck in a Christmas Traffic Jam

Christmas Chaos

Before we even know it, the most joyous time of the year quickly becomes the most stressful time of year.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that just maybe this is not the way God intended the Christmas season to go down.

For most of us, though, this is the way we have always done things. We run ragged attempting to create the perfect Christmas season for our friends and family at the expense of our sanity, mental health, and even physical health.

May I suggest we do the entire season of Christmas differently this year?

As a former codependent, I understand the innate drive to do everything for everyone else; however, as a recovering codependent who is now committed to healthy relationships, I understand the need for boundaries and self-care–especially during the holidays.

Santa surprised at all the chaos

Christmas Season Boundaries:

Let’s talk for a minute about what boundaries might look like during the holidays.

  • Not volunteering to make the cookies for the holiday party at your kids’ school OR volunteering to pick them up from a local bakery or grocery store.
  • Choosing to decorate the inside of your house instead of both the inside and the outside.
  • Taking a year off from the company’s secret Santa.
  • Spending a quiet New Year’s Eve with your partner or family instead of hosting the party for everyone else.
  • Having a pre-determined time to leave the family Christmas gathering. 
  • Determining a set amount for you and your partner to spend on each other’s gifts.
  • Passing out programs for the Christmas program instead of participating in the program itself.
  • Scheduling time for yourself every day.
  • Delegating responsibilities to members of your family.
  • Saying no.

For me, one of my biggest struggles as someone with codependence issues was the fear of letting my friends and family down, especially during the Christmas season. I finally realized that even though I was present at all of these things and doing all these things, I was only half-committed to all of them. 

I was doing everything and nothing well.

When it comes to setting boundaries for the Christmas Season, I would encourage you to take the time to sit down with your partner and/or your family and truly determine what your priorities are–as an individual, a couple, and a family.

You might be surprised what your partner and family see as important priorities as opposed to what you have always believed. I was.

Once you have your priorities set, plan accordingly!

And, actually enjoy the season!

Quietly drinking hot cocoa

Christmas and Self-Care

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of regular self-care during Christmas. I know that term has taken on negative connotations for some people in faith circles over the past few years. It doesn’t have to be that way at all, though.

Taking time to rest is not negative.

Spending an hour regrouping alone is not negative.

Scheduling much-needed quiet time is not negative.

There is a difference between taking care of yourself and living a selfish existence.

This holiday season, I encourage you to take care of yourself. 

What I’ve learned over the years is that is going to look different for each of us. Some of us might be recharged and refreshed after a 15-minute hot bath, but others of us might need an entire day to ourselves.

When you are working with your partner and/or family to identify your priorities, really think about what you need as well. If you know you will need a Saturday morning to yourself to wrap presents and drink coffee, you owe it to your family and yourself to let them know that.

If you need to skip the ladies’ Christmas night out because you know you aren’t going to have any time with your partner alone for the next month, then you need to skip that event for the sake of your relationship.

I could go on and on, but we all have different lives, different needs, and different priorities. To be healthy, you will have to take a close look at your life and your relationships and determine what your needs are and what needs to happen so those needs are met. 

I spent several decades ignoring the cues from my body, my mental and emotional needs, and my priorities for the sake of keeping everyone else happy. It was terrible. Disastrous. Now, though, I work every day to understand my mental health, emotions, priorities, and needs.  I can tell you this is a completely different existence than the world I lived in before. 

Cozy living room showing Christmas tree and peace.

Jesus’s Example of Rest

Even Jesus understood our human needs when it came to boundaries, self-care, and rest. 

  • In Luke 6:12-13, we see Jesus escaping to a mountainside alone to rest and pray.
  • In Matthew 14: 22-23, we see Jesus dismiss his disciples before leaving the huge crowd that was gathered and going to the mountains alone once again.
  • In Mark 6:30-32, the disciples were overwhelmed by their ministry and teachings. Jesus immediately took them to a quiet, solitary place where they could find rest and refuel.
  • In Mark 7:24, we see Jesus find a house to escape to where he hoped no one would find him.
  • In Luke 22:41, we see Jesus retreat from the apostles to be alone once again.

These weren’t selfish decisions. They were decisions that needed to be made for Jesus and his disciples to thrive in their ministries and their lives.

For some reason, our society today has made us feel guilty about taking time to rest and refuel. That isn’t the example Jesus gives us at all, though.

This Christmas Season, my prayer for you is that you will think about your needs and communicate with your partner and/or family and that together you will identify your priorities and only commit to the things that align with those needs and priorities.

It’s my prayer you will remember the example of Jesus and his disciples and allow yourself to rest and refuel to truly thrive in all areas of your life. 

Until Next Time,



  1. What are my priorities for the holiday season?
  2. What do I think are my family’s priorities?
  3. What can I cut out that doesn’t align with those priorities?
  4. What commitment can I make to account for my self-care?

Scripture for reflection:

Matthew 14:22-23

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