Christmas isn’t always an easy time and the added pressures of the festive season can cause negative effects on our mental health. Here are some tips for how to protect yourself during this time of year:

Be careful not to drink too much. Parties and social situations can mean there are more opportunities to drink but it’s important to remember that alcohol is a depressant. Protect your mental health by not drinking to excess.

Keep eating healthily. It is easy to eat a lot at Christmas, especially with the increase in chocolates, sweets and party snacks in the shops. Try and keep a good balance of fruit and vegetables along with the treats to prevent you from feeling tired and irritated.

Get moving. Exercise can help you to feel better and it’s easy to keep active even in the winter months. Walking, cycling or dancing are all alternatives if it’s too hard to use a gym.

Reach out. If you find yourself alone or struggling at this time of year, try contacting a neighbour or local service for support. Many local churches and charities offer Christmas meals in Bristol, like the Marmalade Trust. Bristol Mental Health have a guide to which support services are open over Christmas.

Take it easy. In between shopping, planning and cooking, try and take some time for yourself. Feeling the pressure to be perfect can cause anxiety and stress – it’s OK to relax!

Give back. Christmas is a great time to do good deeds for other people, like volunteering for charity, donating to a foodbank or helping a neighbour. Helping others is good for your mental health as it reduces stress and boosts self-esteem.

What are some of your tips for a stress-free Christmas? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter.