As Thanksgiving feasts give way to leftover turkey sandwiches, many people look forward to the Christmas holidays as a time for non-stop parties with family and friends, sparkling lights and fun.

But, for others, the holiday season is a time for anxiety and burnout, says Ann Austin, assistant professor in Utah State University's Department of Family and Human Development."Holiday burnout is a very real phenomenon," Austin said. "It can deaden the entire season."

Burnout occurs, she said, when a person's expectations are at odds with reality, such as setting unrealistic goals in the drive to "make this the best Christmas ever."

"Burnout commonly hits those who are perfectionists, hard-driving, ambitious, energetic or goal-oriented. Burnout is common with this group because of the many relentless demands they make on themselves and exceedingly high personal standards they usually set," she said.

Victims of burnout also are often those who suffer from what Austin calls a "dump-truck habit."

"They allow other people to dump responsibility on them," she said.

Austin said a good way to avoid holiday burnout is to relax and set reasonable priorities and objectives.

"If you can learn to live within the limits of your time, energy and resources, you'll be taking additional precautions against burnout," she said.

"Sure, it's wonderful to have homemade gifts for everyone, but consider the task realistically. Ask yourself if it is worth the demands it will create in your life."