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Christmas is often associated with joy, cheer, and time with the family, but for some, the holidays can be a stressful experience.

Pembina Counselling Centre receives numerous inquiries about counselling, with November, January and February seeing particular increases.

Executive Director, Paul Penner says, there are common themes to many of these inquiries.

"Very often there are relationship issues involved, maybe how people are managing disappointments in life, relationships where there's a lot of distress... and how they're managing the stress they're feeling. Those are two very broad themes, but that would be true, and true for Christmas time too."

Paul Penner InsertPaul Penner.

There are expectations during Christmas says Penner, more situations involving other people, serving or hosting, gatherings, gifts, so there's a lot of prepping. That's a lot of pressure says Penner, and that pressure can exasperate the stress someone may already feel.

People may be very aware of the stress they are trying to handle, but with those added pressures it escalate certain feelings. Though those times can be difficult Penner says there are ways as a family to work through those times.

"Obviously when there are more pressures because of expectations and things to be done it's good if people kick in... It not only reduces the pressures but it also increases the return, it feels good when we do things together as a family."

Penner says it is important to spend time with the people we care about and to actively think of others during the Christmas season, and have patience with each other when times get stressful.

That's one of the great things about counselling says Penner, it helps give people the tools they need to work through those difficult situations.

Penner notes sometimes people get stuck in life or with a problem, but having a safe place and a third party for people to talk about those points of frustration, to help give direction, or even get clarity from sharing their own stories, can be very beneficial.

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