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Tips to Decrease Risk of Stroke or Heart Attack During the Holidays

Stress of the Holidays

December can be a stressful time of the year with winter holidays, family in town, and additional financial demands. Add in decadent food and excessive drinking and the month can easily be a time of unhealthy habits – increasing your risk for a stroke or heart attack.

But December doesn’t have to be filled with stress and increased risk. Below we outline some easy ways to destress and stay healthy during this holiday month.

1) Exercise regularly

Staying active and moving your body can be a challenge during the cold winter months. Parks, trails, and outdoor activities may not be available in the same ways they are in the summer months, and the views more bland and dreary. But that doesn’t have to stop you for being active. 

Some easy but effective activities include: 

  • Take a walk in your neighborhood
  • Do an online exercise class
  • Stretch in morning or evening 
  • Play with your grandkids or nieces/nephews


2) Go to bed on time

With family and friends in town, it’s tempting to stay up late to spend more time with them, but this simple change in routine can majorly impact your whole day. Doctors recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time, including weekends and holidays. This is because our body runs on a rhythm call a circadian rhythm, and going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day keeps that rhythm in sync. This keeps your body running better and can help improve the quality of your sleep. 

Don’t forget, our bodies heal when we sleep!


3) Minimize your ‘cheat meals’

There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little during a festive time or holiday, the key is to not break too far from your current healthy routines. There are a few ways to avoid overeating and an excess of unhealthy food. You can:

  • Eat at home (these meals tend to be healthier and more balanced than when we eat out)
  • Gift the treats and candy that you bake or receive (you can bring it into your work, gift to friends, or share with neighbors)
  • Eat an early dinner (this gives your body more time to digest before bed)
  • Limit/No late-nigh snacking
  • Eat a healthy breakfast (the easiest way to stay consistent with something is to start it first thing in the morning!)


4) Stay consistent with your medication

I get it, things get crazy during holidays and with visitors or when traveling. When you break out of your everyday routine, it’s not surprising to forget something, whether that’s an items, an appointment, or even a medication. This occurs because the events or timing that would normally serve as a reminder to do or take something is no longer present.

Ways to combat this forgetfulness is to keep a calendar or reminder list. Most smart phones have this option, with the choice to give email or text reminders for what you set. A paper agenda can also be useful, just make sure you check it every day. 

Review what NEEDS to be done first thing in the morning. This habit can help cut back on forgotten tasks and appointments, especially when they’re new or different from your usual routine. 


5) Take time for yourself

While this month is often the time for giving, don’t forget to take some time for yourself! This could mean attending a class or appointment that’s part of your regular routine, advocating for a group activity that you enjoy, or even taking time to be alone and away from the hustle and bustle of friends and family. 


6) Maintain your boundaries

This is one of the most important tips you can do this holiday season to help reduce stress and anxiety. Don’t be afraid to say no or decline an offer if it’s going to be too much or overwhelming for you or your family. If a situation is becoming heated or too much stimulation, excuse yourself and take the steps you need to reset and relax. 

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty pot! You have to make sure you’re full first 🙂 



Hopefully these tips are helpful for you this holiday season! Don’t forget that yoga and meditation can be an excellent resource for stroke and traumatic brain injury to help with anxiety, depression and stress. We offer a FREE Online Chair Yoga class for the holidays. Call 720-505-4015 to learn more or sign up today!