As we prepare for this holiday season, with an extra dose of joy and elation, please keep in mind what overindulgence can do to your heart health, even in a relatively short period of time.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that during the holiday season, when we not only tend to overindulge the most but also stress levels are typically the highest, there is a 33% increase in heart attacks as compared to other months.
While there is no clinical data which leads doctors to identify a single source of what is referred to as the “Holiday Heart Attack”, it is clear that holiday stress and overindulgence are likely significant factors.
Trying to be reasonable and avoiding overindulgence is often much easier than decreasing stress, particularly during the holiday season, but here are some hopefully helpful tips to consider:
- Consider a holiday potluck. Have everyone bring a dish so that the workload doesn’t all fall on one person. Create dishes rich in colorful veggies, fruits, and or whole grains!
- Consider a restaurant holiday meal. Consider having a family meal at local restaurant and keep it budget friendly. You can always venture back to your home for dessert and gifts.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Over time, excessive drinking can raise your blood pressure. Binge drinking can actually lead to an irregular heartbeat known as arterial fibrillation, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Stay warm. Cold temperatures are hard on the heart! They cause blood vessels to constrict, which raises blood pressure. Lower temperatures also mean that blood clots more easily. Remember to layer up for frigid temperatures.
- Get enough sleep. The holidays, although extremely joyful for many, tends to lead to less sleep. Aim for 8 hours. One of the easiest ways to strengthen your immune system is to get an ample amount of sleep.
- Try to avoid high-stress situations. Trim down your “to do” list! Having too much on your plate can lead to exhaustion, anger, and emotional stress—all which cause strain on the heart.
- Keep moving. Take a walk around your neighborhood to look at lights that will soon be everywhere to enjoy! Healthy exercise is a huge key to good heart health.
- Pay attention. Many people ignore their health during the holidays. Don’t forget to take your medications and pay attention to how you’re feeling. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Whether it’s over the prefect meal, the perfect setting or finding that perfect gift, many often get consumed by holiday stress. Particularly this holiday season, as we are able to enjoy the holidays again with our families, just try to take it easy, relax and just enjoy the holiday season. One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is how important spending time together with our families is – take advantage but do it safely.
Stay safe & be well,