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How quickly a month can fly by, especially November and December. With the gatherings and gift exchanges and family visits, you may find yourself asking “How can I help this holiday week be positive?”. If your traveling, planning, budgeting and schedule have you desiring a positive holiday week, I invite you to keep reading.

Gathering with family or friends can be so enriching to our hearts when time spent is positive. However, gathering with family or friends can be draining and stressful if there are wounds or trying relationships. How do you feel when you know there is a family gathering coming up? Below we will talk about ways that you can help this holiday week be positive, even if some of the family and friends you gather with aren’t. Did you know there are steps you can take to shape your holiday week to be positive, such as setting boundaries?

How Can I Set Boundaries?

Do you find it hard to say no to requests? If so, setting boundaries may be hard for you, but they help. Set boundaries for yourself before you travel to the gathering. You do not have to adhere to all the plans and expectations made on your behalf. Decide which houses or gatherings you will partake in and be intentional with planning. You are the decision maker for you and your actions. You get to decide which gatherings fit your budget, time schedule and emotional well-being. Below are some suggestions that could help you in setting boundaries before you travel.

  • How will you get there
  • Is there available budget for the travel and stay
  • Plan your diet while away if there are restrictions
  • How long will you stay
  • How will you respond to conflict


Taking time to come in agreement with the boundaries you set for each visit can help you maintain sense of control of you and your choices and make this holiday week more positive. Planning ahead to ensure that the budget and resources needed are available can reduce adding additional stress of going into debt to participate in family gathers. Be ok with saying “No.” if the resources are not available.

Can I Truly Feel in Control?

Another area that can help you have a positive holiday week is control. We can easily feel out of control when we try to fix others or respond when topics trigger us. Do you find it hard to receive what others direct at you? Do you need help responding to them? Focus on things you can control. For example, your thoughts and your actions are the only things within your control. Practice thinking a positive thought when conversations trigger you. You have no control over people’s words or actions. Keeping these two things in mind can help this holiday week be positive. If conflict follows your family gatherings, below are some suggestions that could help you better plan control over yourself during the holiday.

  • Make it clear if certain topics are not up for debate
  • Do not engage with conflict
  • Decide ahead of time how you will exit the conversation
  • Take small breaks or walks
  • Don’t overdo sugar, alcohol or caffeine
  • Decide ahead of time how you will handle someone crossing your boundary


Planning ahead and taking control of your choices can be hard but can also help this holiday week be positive. If gatherings are hard for you and your family, you may have to make choices that help you to establish boundaries and maintain control of things within your control. Taking steps in letting go of what you cannot control is necessary for our mental health and stability. We take these steps for ourselves, for our lives.

You can also read other posts where holiday stress is discussed and ways to make the holiday week positive. In this post we talk about choosing gratitude and how that affects us mentally. Identifying anxiety during the holidays can be very helpful. We discuss identifying if there is trauma involved in your relationships and steps to take to heal in this post. Selfcare and ways to take care of yourself during the holidays can be easily forgotten during the additional stress and tasks during the holidays.

Selfcare is important, yet, for some, is hard. Each of us must take steps to keep ourselves healthy emotionally, mentally and physically. If you desire to take steps for improvement but struggle to know what steps to take, you are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to help you. Our therapists are trained to help you understand why spending time with family is so hard. We offer different therapy approaches to help you overcome the past and live in the today.

Do you desire help overcoming past wounds?

Upstate Restorative Counseling provides other services that can help you! We provide assistance with counseling in TraumaAnxietyDepressionNavigating Life TransitionsResolving Relationship Issues, and Online Therapy. When you are ready, our team is here to support you.

Would you like to read more on this topic? Check out this blog post for ideas to help.