Someone’s Gotta be the Holiday “Villian” This Season   

“When you decide to put yourself first, you make a choice to live authentically. You can nurture yourself, which in turn gives back more to the world. As you become the priority, you start to make choices based on what is right for you at that moment, not what is right for the rest of the world,” Michelle Zawaski, entrepreneur, coach and author of “Real Success Choices,” once said.  

One can never be last putting themselves first, at least when it comes to holidays and setting boundaries.   

Now while that may make the boundary-setter seemingly the villain in this real-life Christmas tale as old as time, ‘tis the season to be the holiday hero of your own story for once. Why not start now, during this too-often rushed, busy and underappreciated holiday season?  

Between baking Christmas cookies, wrapping presents and having get-togethers with family and friends, remember to not go overboard into debt, and miss the season totally with too many requests (no matter how reasonable) from others.  

Multi-hyphenate author Tamela Todd, a Detroit-based certified mental health coach, encourages people to set boundaries all year long in her book, “Healthy Boundaries: How to Say NO Without Feeling Guilty,” which covers tips on how to create emotional fences for yourself and your mental health.  

Multi-hyphenate author Tamela Todd, a Detroit-based certified mental health coach, encourages boundaries during the holidays     

Todd told the Michigan Chronicle that she of all people knows about setting boundaries during the holidays with her birthday in December, as her time off is for her.  

“My birthday is in a couple weeks, so during this season I set a schedule where I’m only working on three business days,” Todd said. “That’s just what works for me. Everybody can’t do that but I work on my business for three days and then the rest of the time I’m doing family activities… and then also I’m putting myself first… for my time.”  

Honoring oneself during the holidays also looks like spending money wisely and not going for broke.  

Per the financial group Fortunly, in 2018, U.S. households spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas season. In 2019, the typical amount spent was reduced to $1,496. Just about a third of that portion makes up the average amount spent on Christmas gifts and gift cards, which is $511.    

Christmas spending went up last year and it doesn’t appear to be letting up.  

According to, recently the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted holiday sales to be up 6 percent to 8 percent in the United States.  

Todd says her plan to not overspend but set feasible limits and think of creative ways to give gifts (think concert tickets or a vacation) this year or just simply spend less.  

“Do you really want to do that [spend money] or would you rather invest your money to make more money?”  

Todd added that experiences over gifts, for the most part, for small children can make a difference, too.  

“They will remember the time and I tell (people) like, your presence, not presents,” she said.  

Credit financial counseling service GreenPath Financial Wellness agrees that when it comes to gifting generously do it without breaking the bank. From opening a 529 savings plan for kids to taking a family portrait – ideas are endless for simple gifts that keep giving in the long run.     

Also, think out of the box and give a non-traditional gift of volunteering in someone’s name.    

“Volunteer at a friend or loved one’s favorite charity or provide a contribution on their behalf,” GreenPath suggested. Traditional volunteering at local food pantries, community centers, humane societies, or nonprofit organizations doesn’t hurt either.    

Beyond finances, it’s time to talk about setting limits on others’ expectations and not even attending functions where discomfort awaits.  

“If it is uncomfortable to be in their presence why am I putting myself in an uncomfortable situation to celebrate the holiday?”  

Todd says to be so bold as to set firm boundaries even at Christmastime.  

“I think a lot of times we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to keep the peace,” she said. “I have a home that I’ve been blessed with and I can make my own traditions at my home. … Your mental health is non-negotiable.”   

Former Detroit City Councilman Roy McCalister Jr. agrees.   

“Mental health is life,” he told the Michigan Chronicle. “All things that we do surround it and it affects everyone around us in some form or fashion. If your mental health is not taken care of we are limited in our daily functioning when it comes to work, school, taking care of our families and, most importantly, ourselves. Continued functioning in these areas inspire me to want Black people to do better at caring for themselves, and in order to do these things, ensuring their mental health is taken care of is paramount”.  

Therapy For Black Girls encourages mental health prioritization with a little holiday mindset help.  

“Allow yourself space to feel whatever you feel. There is often this expectation that holidays are a time of celebration and excitement, and there’s often a feeling of, “What’s wrong with me,” if we don’t feel that way for one reason or another,” they say.   

Remember, before saying “yes” to one’s mile-long holiday to-do list and requests — say yes to yourself and let that spirit of putting yourself first guide you into the new year.  



About Post Author

From the Web

Skip to content