It’s a long bank holiday weekend here in the UK and this has got me thinking about expectations during holiday periods. Understandably holidays are times when family and friends may want to see us. Knowing we’re free from the obligations of work at least for a few days, they may expect us to have more free time to spend with them. The obligations and expectations of work (including full time parenting/other caring), however, may be so intense that when public holidays roll around what we actually need and crave is rest, ease, and solitude. Learning and practicing how to set boundaries for ourselves is such an important step in recovering from burnout.

It isn’t only work that contributes to burnout. It is all of the expectations placed on us all of the time. When we find it hard to assert our boundaries and say no to people, things such as public holidays can just add to the pile of everything that eventually becomes too much. If we’ve learned to people please to get by it can be especially hard to undo from all of this.

I’m still learning when it comes to these sorts of things, and it’s a messy process of untangling from many external expectations and ‘shoulds’. However, here are a few things I have found helpful along my journey:

  • Taking the time to check in with yourself ahead of a holiday or event. Asking, “what do I want and need from this time?” and then balancing other people’s desires with your own needs as best you can.
  • Remembering that “no” doesn’t have to be a shut door. If somebody invites you to do something, you would like to spend time with them but what they’ve suggested doesn’t feel good to you then you can say “no, but how about…” and offer something else that does feel good to you.
  • Being clear on your boundaries before going to something, or having a conversation with someone about a plan. This way you can identify for yourself what you’re happy to say yes to, what you aren’t happy with, when you want to leave by etc.
  • Knowing that it’s ok to take time to make a decision. You do not have to reply to that message straight away, you also don’t have to make a decision during a phone call. It’s okay to say “I’m going to take some time to think about that and get back to you”. Be aware, though, if you’re avoiding getting back to someone in the hopes they will go away.
  • Realising that if you’re going against your own desires and needs so as not to reject somebody else, then you are actually rejecting yourself.

Finally, it’s important to remember that this is challenging and uncomfortable work to do. It will not feel easy, but the more we practice doing these things hopefully the more comfortable they will become. Also remember that relationships, especially those with family, can be difficult to navigate. When doing this kind of work it is helpful to have some support and tools you can draw on. For me this looks like my therapist, yoga practice, close friends and practices I use to connect to myself such as journaling and tarot. Feeling supported helps us to sustain this work, be with the challenge and create lasting change.

Curious to work with us on identifying and setting your boundaries? We’d love to support you through our one off Pause session, or longer Reset 3 month package. Find out more info here, and book a free curiosity call here.