GETTING AHEAD: HEART HEALTH FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Because statistics show the months of December and January are the most stressful of all, and more heart attacks occur during this time, here are a few simple ways to ease into the holidays.
Breathe. Take deep breaths, in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Square breathing also works—it refocuses your mind. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds, and remain calm for 4 seconds. Over a small span of time, any anxiety you may feel is reduced. No one can have a panic attack while they perform deep breathing exercises, as the brain and body slows down.
Walk and Self-Talk. One time a day for 30 minutes, one day at a time, is what cardiologists say is a simple way to get moving, every day. Breaking a small sweat while telling yourself positive and encouraging words, such as, “I can do this,” is an excellent way to begin.
Limit alcohol and caffeine. Known as “holiday heart”, this syndrome occurs when people indulge in too much alcohol, which could trigger a heart rhythm disorder, known as atrial fibrillation. Moderation is key. Doctors say individuals with existing heart disease are more vulnerable, but holiday heart also strikes in perfectly healthy individuals, too.
Make quality sleep a priority.
As sleep experts tell HMC in “Secrets to Help You Improve Sleep,” lack of quality sleep leads to brain fog, poor food choices, possible anxiety and potential accidents. Keep screens out of your bedroom and shut off an hour before bed. It will help create a restful environment that will support the movement you incorporate in your day.
Plan to talk with your healthcare provider.
If you are prone to high blood pressure, knowing your numbers is key. Make a telehealth appointment or in-person visit to your doctor ahead of the holidays. The American Heart Association has an online 6-Question Quiz on improving blood pressure. Complete, print off and take with you to your doctor to discuss.