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Holidays will control you — if you let them (12-21-00)

The holidays are supposed to be joyous, but for many the opposite is true. After Thanksgiving, the pressures associated with the holiday season begin to mount and they can be overwhelming.

“The pressures that many feel during the holidays are self-imposed,” said Jodi Gonzalez, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “We try to raise the bar each year and place demands on ourselves to put on a magazine-cover Christmas, and that’s often unrealistic.”

It’s not too late to enjoy this holiday season, she said. “One suggestion is to set priorities and determine which activities are stressful. You can stop doing the activity or figure out a way to make it less stressful. For example, if sending out 100 Christmas cards is going to send you over the edge, skip it this year or send them out after the New Year.

“Each person has control over the kind of holiday he or she will have,” Dr. Gonzalez added. “This may involve declining a few invitations, not making six dozen cookies or not volunteering to direct the Christmas play. Choose activities that are enjoyable and that will bring meaning into your life, as opposed to doing what others think you should be doing.”

Contact: Myong Covert or Will Sansom