Tips To Keep Your Heart Healthy During The Holiday Season
The start of the holiday season is nearly upon us.
I've always loved this time of year.
But I know for many Americans, the holidays can be far from jolly.
In fact, researchers have found that this time of year is among the most stressful for many folks.
And that was even before the pandemic.
Sure, there's the regular holiday stress.
Worrying about whether you'll get all your shopping done.
Worrying about funds... and if you've spent more than you can truly afford.
Worrying about potential family conflicts, and hoping you can keep the peace in spite of clashing personalities.
And now on top of that we have the pandemic stress.
Worrying about our health and the health of our loved ones.
Worrying about whether we'll even see our loved ones at all this season.
All that stress can wreak havoc on your heart, and put you at greater risk of developing serious heart issues.
The last thing you want to worry about over the holidays is your heart.
So, here are some tips to keep your heart healthy during the holiday season... and beyond.
Spice it up.
Research has shown people who enjoy spicy food tend to eat food with less salt.
Less salt equals better blood pressure, and a healthier heart. So, find the spiciest food being served and enjoy.
While small amounts of alcohol, particularly red wine, can be beneficial to your heart, drinking too much can impact your blood pressure and result in "Holiday Heart Syndrome" – irregular heart rhythms around the holidays due to excess alcohol consumption.
Keeping alcohol to a minimum is a heart smart decision.
Due to the pandemic, some holiday gatherings may be held outdoors, rather than in someone's home.
But if it's cold outside, you should plan on bundling up.
Cold temps are hard on your heart and cause blood vessels to constrict, which in turn, slows your blood flow.
If you're going to be spending time outdoors this season, dress in layers to keep your body warm.
Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy.
Regular physical activity can help ease tension and boost your mood.
Plus, exercising helps your body produce "feel good" endorphins that squash stress.
Take 30-45 minutes a day to move your body and your heart will be stronger for it.
Create new traditions.
With the pandemic raging, my family traditions will be turned on their head this season.
Rather than dwell on what isn't happening, create new traditions.
Eat Thanksgiving dinner "together" via Zoom.
If it's not too cold, enjoy a Christmas backyard brunch.
This really is the year to let go of expectations and make the most of what's possible.
Take a moment for yourself.
If you start feeling overwhelmed and anxious, take a break for your own mental health.
Focus on doing something that you find relaxing to recharge your batteries like taking a bath, meditating, or reading a book.
Self-care is just as important as taking care of the loved ones around you.
Seek out a furry friend.
On the floor next to Ellie is my go-to place whenever I start to feel stressed out.
If you have a pet, or if you're visiting a home with a pet, try to sneak away and give that furry friend some attention.
Animals have a natural calming effect that can benefit your blood pressure.
I understand that for many of you, the holidays are far from "the most wonderful time of year."
But if you celebrate smartly so that you can keep your heart healthy, you might enjoy a little jolly along the way.