A HOSPICE based in Epping and Harlow is urging people to look after their mental health in the run-up to Christmas.

According to a YouGov survey, over two in five Britons have felt stressed during the festive season, while around one in four has struggled with anxiety or depression.

St Clare Hospice’s family support counsellor Elaine McManigan has issued guidance around coping during the Christmas period for people who are bereaved.

“For some people it is the anticipation of Christmas coming that can be more distressing than Christmas itself; it can feel like Christmas is looming,” said Elaine.

She explains that it’s sometimes helpful to find different ways to mark Christmas.

“You might want to stick to some traditions, but not all the usual routines or traditions your loved one may have liked.

“Remember that it’s up to you - whatever makes you feel better is the right thing to do. If you don’t feel the need to celebrate Christmas, then don’t.”

The counsellor continued to highlight the importance of maintaining a normal routine.

She added: “Christmas Day can get quite chaotic so it’s important to try to keep your normal patterns of sleeping and eating – it’s a way of self-care and putting yourself first.”

The hospice has a range of ways to support someone through bereavement – and this support will continue throughout the Christmas period.

The St Clare Bereavement Café will be open on Christmas and New Year’s Eve for residents to meet face-to-face with other people in similar positions.