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Don't Should Yourself

December 11, 2023

Erin Dos Reis, LCSW

Clinical Director, Teen Mental Health Programs

Holiday Pressure

The holidays seem to come around faster and faster every year. This might be because there are Halloween decorations out during the summer months, or we have to book holiday excursions before the kids are even back at school.

"Shoulding" Yourself 

It can be easy for the pressure that surrounds this time of year to build quickly and it is common to find yourself thinking about all the things you should be doing. I should make cookies for all of the neighbors. I should buy presents for the teachers, my co-workers, the mail carrier, grocer and coffee barista. I should set a health-related New Year's resolution starting on January 1. While “shoulding ourselves” is not unique to November and December, it can certainly worsen as the holidays near.

How to Prevent Should Statements 

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we call “should statements” a cognitive distortion or irrational thought pattern. Ways to prevent these “should statements” from causing increased anxiety and stress is to challenge the thought.

Ask yourself – What purpose does this thought serve? How did the thought develop? Would you tell your friend the same thing? How does it benefit you? Is the thought based on facts? – and depending on your answers, try to reframe the statement as something you desire to do. For example, I would like to make cookies for the neighbors. This helps minimize unnecessary pressure and set realistic expectations.

So rather than feeling like you “should” practice cognitive reframing, think about how you “can” practice cognitive reframing and, in turn, have a huge impact on the way you feel.


Erin Dos Reis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 10 years of clinical experience. Before joining HopeWay in 2016, she worked at Cohen Children’s Medical Center as a Social Worker. While there, she worked on multiple units, including in the medical and behavioral health emergency rooms, medical/surgical, PICU, NICU, and oncology. In her role, Erin provided case management, crisis intervention, and ongoing therapeutic interventions with patients. This role helped her understand the value of an integrated approach, leading her to choose HopeWay as the next step in her career when she moved to North Carolina from New York. Erin joined the HopeWay team as a Primary Therapist where she has led groups, provided psychoeducation to the community, held first responder support groups during the COVID pandemic, managed an individual caseload, led a community family support group, and provided individual therapy to adult clients. Erin also has treated clients in our outpatient practice, HopeWay Psychiatry & Associates.  

As the Clinical Director of the Teen Mental Health Program, she is responsible for providing supervision to the clinical staff, program development and oversight of daily operations. The combination of Erin’s knowledge, attention to detail and passion make her a sought-after clinician and leader. Throughout her career, she has seen how evidence-based, top-notch care can transform someone’s life and she is committed to giving all of her clients the same opportunity to heal.  

Outside of work, Erin enjoys reading, going to concerts and spending time with her family.  


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Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.