American Heart Association

You are not alone if you are experiencing heightened levels of stress throughout the holiday season! Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, stress can easily rise. Take stress out of the equation so you stay happy, relaxed and heart-healthy with these tips for the holidays.

Stay active

Even in the madness of the holiday season, keeping active is important to keep your heart health in check and to avoid excess weight gain. Take a brisk walk after dinner. Do active chores around the house. If it’s not too cold, take your children to the park. Even 10 to 15 minutes of exercise a day can help. Alternate between squats, push-ups, jogging in place and tricep dips with this at-home workout routine by Go Red For Women contributor María Simón. Yoga is also a great activity to reduce stress and engage in fitness from the comfort of your own home.

Don’t over do it

Parties, events and family obligations can seem overwhelming on top of work or your normal routine. While you may need to wake up 30 minutes earlier or work an hour later to get it all done, don’t go overboard with your personal expectations. Plan your days ahead of time so you can assess everything you need to do—and the things that have to drop off the list so you can reduce your stress.

Eat healthy first

Unhealthy foods are almost unavoidable over the holidays. Heavier meals, hors d’oeuvres, cookies and sweets abound, all of which may have extra calories and sodium to enhance their taste and appeal. So, to keep your diet on track, try eating healthier foods as a snack ahead of big meals or parties to fill you up first and give you more of the nutrients you need. Lean protein and high fiber are important components to a healthy snack. Try vegetables and hummus, a fruit salad, a hand-full of almonds or even oatmeal with cinnamon and apples ahead of a big meal or event to avoid over-eating unhealthy foods.

Drink wisely

Holiday cocktail parties and festivities typically involve alcoholic drinks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t healthy choices you can make. Avoid sugary cocktails and choose red wine or club soda with lemon or lime with your choice of liquor instead. Both of these options have fewer calories and all-natural ingredients.

Take time for yourself

The holidays can be a joyful and reflective time. Try to carve out 20 minutes every day just for you. You can workout, meditate, practice yoga, read a book or magazine, take a long bath, cook something you love—whatever makes you happy. Taking time for yourself can help you minimize stress and increase your positive feelings.

Plan the months ahead

Reduce stress in the New Year by planning out the months ahead. Set realistic goals for yourself as they relate to your health, work, family or friends. If working out three times a week hasn’t happened yet for you, try committing yourself to doing it the month of January, and see how it goes. Setting distinct timeframes around your goals can help motivate you to accomplish them.

Read our holiday party survival guide for more heart-healthy living tips this holiday season.

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