5 Tips to Survive The New Year, If You Are Codependent
By Briana MacWilliam MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT Licensed Creative Arts Therapist & Attachment Coach.
The holiday season can be fun and festive for some, but also increases stress and can shine an
unforgiving light on the quality of our relationships to family and loved ones. If you struggle with
codependency, you might feel increased stress and anxiety during the holidays, trying to please
others and then feeling down on yourself, if you are not successful. The New Year is also a time
when we might feel hyper focused upon the successes or set backs of the previous year, and
having to answer questions about those things at family gatherings or holiday events can be
intimidating. To help codependent individuals survive the holiday season, here are some tips for
them to follow:
1. Recognize codependency: It is important to first recognize codependency characteristics in
yourself and to understand that codependency is often rooted in feelings of low self-worth and a
need to maintain control. For example, codependent individuals might be overly worried about
how their family and friends will perceive them, or they may struggle to say “no” even when it’s
in their best interest. Other characteristics may include feeling a sense of guilt or shame if they
don’t meet the expectations of others.
2. Set boundaries: Once codependency is recognized, codependent individuals must learn to
set healthy boundaries with family and friends. This can include setting limits on time and
energy that are given away during holiday gatherings, saying “no” when asked for help or
favors, and recognizing personal needs versus others. For example, you might try the following:
● Not engaging in talk about weight-loss or dieting
● Not getting involved with family disputes
● Bringing your own food, if you have allergies or restrictions
● Leaving early if family members are getting too intoxicated
● Requesting not to discuss politics
● Establishing a “safe” word with your partner that let’s them know you need to leave
3. Connect with your own sense of purpose: During the holiday season, codependent
individuals should remind themselves of their own goals and aspirations for the future, so that
they can stay focused on what matters most to them. This will help them connect to a sense of
“self” and stay grounded and less likely to succumb to the influence of other people’s opinions.
When you are clear on what you want, the vague criticisms or expectations of others are more
likely to roll off your back, because your authentic needs and values will be that much clearer to
For example, Clara had been saving money to invest in a small house and rental property. At a
holiday gathering, her siblings requested that she go in on an investment with them, instead,
which meant she would carry the majority of the financial burden. Normally, Clara would
succumb to the pressure, but because she was already so clear and excited about her own
personal goals and vision, she was able to clearly and confidently say “no” to their idea, even
though they were upset with her.
4. Find ways to relax: Taking the time to relax and do something enjoyable can be a great way
for codependent individuals to stay grounded during the holiday season. Activities such as yoga,
meditation or journaling can help codependent individuals to stay in touch with their feelings and
emotions. Additionally, individuals can practice deep breathing, take a break from the
conversation, or even leave the gathering altogether if necessary.
5. Connect to the rhythms of Nature: While there are several religious holidays around this
time of year, it is also the Winter Solstice. Whether you are spending time alone or in the
presence of others, it is a sacred period for contemplation and regenerative processes to take
place beneath the surface. In the quiet cold there is a slow burn sparking, without any efforting
Winter is a time to retreat inward, entering into the fruitful darkness and quietness of our soul.
By honoring nature’s cycles, we gain insight into our own personal growth and development.
Through this conscious connection with Nature, each one of us can listen for the callings that lie
within, allowing new inspirations to bloom in all their glory.
When we experience a range of emotions, they can appear uncomfortable and challenging. We
may also feel ashamed for feeling them in the first place. Yet rather than letting darkness
consume our lives and minds, it is important to recognize that sometimes this darkness provides
us with an invaluable opportunity for growth. If we embrace our own shadows instead of
rejecting them, it will enable us to unlock a unique source of personal power within ourselves!
So, if you connect with codependent tendencies, and feel particularly alone this season, as you
look ahead into this new cycle, remember that your inner light is everlasting – and when you
follow its illumination, connection and love will always be there!
Sticking to these tips and remaining mindful of codependent triggers can help individuals survive
the holiday season with less stress and anxiety. Ultimately, individuals should trust in
themselves to make decisions that are best for them. With these tips, codependent individuals
can take steps towards leading an empowered life while still enjoying all of the joys the holiday
season has to offer!
Briana MacWilliam is an author, educator and licensed and board-certified creative arts therapist with more than 15 years in the field, helping adults struggling with insecure attachment attract and/or cultivate loving relationships. To learn more about her offerings in personal development, you can visit her website at https://brianamacwilliam.com/.