Disclaimer: I am a Go Red Blogger for the St. Louis Chapter of the American Heart Association. I am not being compensated in any way for my ambassadorship.
Holiday stress isn’t fun.
And you know what? We bring a lot of it on ourselves. While trying to have the best holiday season we can, we often bog ourselves down with tasks, parties and events, and other things that leave us worn out and overstressed. We should be enjoying this most wonderful time of year, and sometimes, we don’t get much joy out of it. I, for one, promised myself a long time ago that I would make sure to actually get the most out of the holidays. And if that meant putting my health first, then so be it.
Because I want to be around for more holidays.
As a Go Red Ambassador for the St. Louis Chapter of the American Heart Association, I get sent tips and tools from the AHA to share with my readers. I wanted to pass on these Five Heart-Healthy Tips from the American Heart Association because I know that during this time of the year, stress is at an all-time level for so many of us.
1. Go in with a plan
For example, make a pact with yourself during the holidays: “For these three weeks I will get at least 30 minutes of activity per day, I’ll have a reasonably healthy breakfast and lunch and limit the sweets. And I’ll leave my meds out on the dresser so I won’t leave the house without having taken them.” Then return to your usual heart-healthy routine (or start one) once the holidays are over. Check out the American Heart Association’s Recommendation for Physical Activity in Adults.
2. Beware of party perils
Special holiday events often serve up extra helpings of high-fat foods. Too many sugary or salty treats can be a concern for those with high blood pressure or hypertension, is a concern for everyone and events that run late into the night mean that you won’t be too enthusiastic about exercising. If you’re a guest, plan on eating a healthy snack before you go and consciously choose to eat less at the event. If you’re the host, challenge yourself to whip up a delicious and heart-healthy menu. Your guests will probably thank you!
3. Stay active — even in the hustle and bustle of the season.
Sprinkle in some healthy behaviors with your daily activities. For example, if the weather isn’t too frightful, get off the bus several blocks early and walk to work or school. If dinner is going to be a feast, opt for a light lunch, then take a vigorous walk. And pick up the pace on family activities. When the kids are home from school, squeeze in some active chores and trips to the park.
4. But not too active.
Give yourself the gift of peace. When the invitations pile up, if you can’t say no, it’s not fun. Hold your own schedule and don’t overbook yourself.
5. Lay out a plan for January, February and beyond.
Your poinsettia’s pooped and the eggnog’s gone. Now what? It’s great that you want to start doing healthy things — like exercising 30 minutes a day or making an appointment to get your blood pressure checked — but don’t go dashing through your to-do list too fast or you might not stick to your plan. Lay out realistic steps for the months ahead. For example, instead of joining a gym, you might want to start a vigorous walking program first. It’s free, and it’s a great way to fit in more physical activity.
My advice? Make sure that YOU are taking care of yourself before taking care of others. So if that means not attending an event because you are tired and have attended five other soirees during the week, then don’t do it. When you are at your best, it is easier to make your family and loved ones are too.
Enjoy your holiday season!