"Have a holly, jolly Christmas, it's the best time of the year . . . "

Or, is it?The holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. But sometimes they get so hectic, we wonder if it is all worth it. All the hustle and bustle brings it own kinds of hassle.

For some people, too, the holidays bring feelings of stress and anxiety.

"The holidays can present a time of intense pressure, loneliness, anxiety and even depression for some people," says Jennifer Ziegahn, director of adult services for the Golden Valley Health Center, a behavioral treatment center based in Minnesota. High family expectations or unrealistic prospects for family unity can bring on feelings of isolation and hopelessness, she says. Efforts to complete countless tasks, meet multiple commitments, stand in endless lines and meet others' expectations may create unbearable stress for some individuals.

The key to having happy holidays is to learn to manage the stresses and excesses of the season. If you are aware of potential problems and can take steps to minimize some of the pressures, you are more likely to enjoy rather than dread the festivities.

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The center offers some suggestions and helps in coping with holiday stress - so this it can actually be a time of joy, reflection and rewarding personal experiences.

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