The festive season has begun and as we move towards a new year, expect an abundance of everything that can fill our bellies and those celebrations that call for warmth and togetherness.
It can be a challenge turning down invites to social occasions, and you don’t want to be a killjoy when everyone is merry, right? So a better action is just to say “no” to unhealthy activities during the holidays, because these are the times of the year when many people experience drastic fluctuations in blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or increase the risk of heart-related conditions.
If you have heart issues, or if you know you’re at risk, it helps to do everything in moderation to stay healthy this season.
Stock up the Christmas stockings, not your belly
Our bodies have a natural tendency to hibernate in the winter, so we have that need to stock up. But (unhealthy) food is just everywhere – think of Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties and the family gatherings in the Spring Festival – and even if the temptation to eat is so strong, resist that by just getting smaller portions of meals or filling up with high-fiber snacks and fruits. They promote good digestion and help maintain proper blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Also, stay away from processed/prepackaged foods because their high sodium levels can raise your blood pressure.
Smoking or Drinking
Well, you shouldn’t be smoking in the first place. You know it’s bad for your existence, for the people who inhale second-hand smoke, and for the environment. If you can’t just quit smoking, do it away from the others.
Meanwhile, our alcohol intake may be too high due to parties here and there. But if you have heart issues (or even if you don’t), it helps that you lessen the consumption of alcohol or even better, ring in the New Year by being sober!
Get out and be active!
Certain activities like working out, or even walking, are just so difficult to do during the winter, so it’s understandable if you’d just like to stay at home or do fewer tasks. But move, move, move! Your body needs to be active. If cold air or a polluted day is an issue, you can always exercise indoors, or even make use of common home or office equipment to work out.
When You’re Traveling…
Be mindful of the times you need to take your medications. Yes, enjoy the warmth of the beach or spend time with your loved ones, but also take care of your heart. Setting up phone alarms can help, but it’s the habit of religiously following your doctor’s orders and awareness of your health situation that’s important.
Also, make sure that your medications are enough during a long vacation, and also bring necessary prescriptions because emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Take note that some over-the-counter drugs like decongestants can raise your blood pressure too.
Even if it’s the season to be jolly, it can be the time for high stress too. Too much work before the year ends, shorter days, or even the winter blues can all induce low points in our mental well-being, and in turn, they can cause a fluctuation in blood pressure. Feel free to say no to some gatherings that you don’t feel like going to; be aware of the possible change in your work schedule and try not to overwork; and enjoy the warmth of the sun more often. Also, other people might feel stressed or depressed this season. Reach out to those whom you think will be lonely or alone, or spend time with the needy by volunteering.