WMU News

Avoid stress by not giving into holiday hype

Dec. 6, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Don't believe the hype, says Western Michigan University's Dr. Phillip Johnson, an assistant professor of counseling psychology.

"We make such a big deal out of the holiday season and often, people's experiences are at odds with all the hype," Johnson says. "It's not always an upbeat or pleasant time for all people."

Many face issues of sadness, loss and unreasonable expectations, he says and the media, advertisers and other commercial forces only make it worse. "We're bombarded. By the end of the holiday season, we just want it go away. And there's no reason people should feel bad about that. It's kind of normal."

Holiday stress manifests itself in several ways, says Johnson, noting the pressure that comes with shopping, spending more than one can afford, or attending family functions with the expectation of resolving longstanding personal issues.

"It's also a time when parents feel challenged, because there's pressure to buy the latest toys and the next big thing," he says. "Instead, it should be considered a time for parents to set limits for their kids and for themselves."

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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