Psychologist: Manage your expectations to avoid the 'holiday blues'

- Do you have the “holiday blues?” You’re not alone. Fox 9 spoke to an expert on what it takes to keep Christmas from being overwhelming.

“Holiday blues are often, they often happen because of enormous expectations,” Allina Helath Psychologist Cheryl Bemel said. “They have grandiose expectations and it leaves room for a big fall."

This Super Target in Eden Prairie was packed with frantic shoppers on Christmas Eve day.  Some were buying last-minute gifts and supplies while others were stocking up on groceries for holiday feasts.

"Do the holidays get stressful? A little bit… you deal with it when you can,” last-minute shopper Doug Spanier said.

Spanier, of West St. Paul, has four little boys to please on Christmas. He concedes it's not easy, but he also wouldn't change a thing.

“It's the gift buying and getting everything and having the time management,” Spanier said.  “You have a little amount of time to get the shopping done for the little's ones.  It's Dec. 25 every year, but it gets down to the last-minute every time."

The money, the family, the travel, and keeping everyone happy can all take a toll at Christmas.

Bemel believes the best way to avoid the fall is to plan ahead and set attainable goals – “Many of us have memories of holidays of yesteryear that were perfect. And they were only perfect because we were children. We can't replicate that."

As for planning, the psychologist has some good ideas like: If there's a family member who gets under your skin, avoid them at the dinner table -- Or, if your holiday group likes to drink most of the day and that stresses you out, don't be afraid to leave early.

Bemel said she sees the holiday blues surface across all demographics -- young, old, rich, poor, and more.

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