Pathways for positivity: All I want for Christmas …

As the holiday season approaches, we’ll soon be overwhelmed with Mariah Carey’s annual belter, social media hype, festive films, and high-profile department store commercials, all depicting the most idyllic time of the year. Brimming with cheerful celebrations, cherished moments with loved ones, and the timeless tradition of gift-giving.

However, not everyone looks forward to a magical Christmas. For some, this season is ruined by increased stress levels. Emotional turmoil, grief, financial challenges, painful memories, loneliness, or strained relationships, any of which can cast a shadow of doom over the idea of a joyful Christmas. Just getting through these difficulties unscathed, may feel like an accomplishment.

Regardless of your sentiments toward the festivities, I encourage you to think about the importance of establishing firm boundaries, to craft an experience that genuinely satisfies you and supports your wellbeing.

Here are some boundaries to consider implementing, they are applicable year-round but particularly relevant during Christmas:

Prioritise Self-Care: Dedicate time for self-care, even during the busiest holiday periods. This is when you need to care for yourself the most. Whether it involves a few minutes of meditation, a soothing bath, a quiet moment with a good book, or a stroll on a crisp winter day, prioritise activities that recharge your mental and emotional well-being.

Be Selective with Social Commitments: It’s common to receive numerous invitations and requests during the festive season. Be discerning about the events and gatherings you choose to attend. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation; it’s perfectly OK to decline or prioritise those that hold the most significance for you.

Establish Financial Boundaries: Create a budget for your holiday spending and stick to it. Overspending can lead to financial stress, which in turn can negatively impact your mental health. Be open with yourself and your loved ones about what you can comfortably afford. True loved ones would not want you to go into debt to buy them a gift.

Clear Communication: Maintain open and honest communication with friends and family. Let them know if you need some alone time or if certain conversation topics are off-limits. Establishing these boundaries can help prevent conflicts, uncomfortable moments, and emotional distress.

Set Screen Time Limits: Reduce your screen time, including social media, during the festive season. Excessive screen use can lead to feelings of inadequacy and FOMO (fear of missing out), which can negatively affect your mental health as you compare your life to seemingly flawless online images. Consider setting specific times for checking social media or powering down devices during family time.

Dietary Guidelines: Maintain healthy eating habits and set boundaries around food and alcohol consumption, especially if this is an area of struggle for you. Overindulgence can lead to physical discomfort and adversely impact your mood and energy levels long term. Enjoy special treats in moderation but be mindful of your choices.

Unplugged Moments: Allocate periods of time to unplug from technology and other distractions. Spend quality time with loved ones, engage in board games, engage in conversations, crafts, take walks or bike rides, have a day out, and participate in activities that bring you joy and create lasting memories.

By establishing your own boundaries and respecting those of others, you can truly savor a fulfilling Christmas while taking care of your mental health.

In this special season, remember that the most precious gift you can give yourself is a happy and healthy you.


Shannon Humphrey is a First Aid for Mental Health Instructor working within the education sector, businesses and private clients. Visit for more information or to enquire about a booking.

Photo: Shutterstock


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