No doubt about it: The holidays can bring a lot of stress. Even for people in the best of health, stress can take a real toll on the body and overall health. For people with atrial fibrillation, avoiding stress is even more critical. Studies have shown that reducing or effectively managing emotional stress can have a significant effect on cardiovascular health biomarkers, which means that if you can decrease your stress level or learn how to deal with stress, you’ll avoid potentially negative effects on your heart.

In today’s fast-paced, high-stress world, learning to manage stress isn’t always easy, but there are some simple steps you can take to decrease your stress level and protect your heart. If you find holidays to be more than a little stressful, here’s a quick crash course in stress management you might find helpful:

  • Try deep breathing. It’s amazing that something this simple works such wonders for reducing stress. Breathe in through your nose for a count of five, then gently blow out through your mouth for a count of five. Continue for a few minutes, and stop if you feel dizzy.
  • Practice stress-reducing exercises. Neck rolls and simple stretches can do wonders to relieve muscle stress, and if you combine it with deep breathing, you get double the benefits.
  • Learn progressive muscle relaxation. Start by relaxing the muscles in your toes, then work up your legs, torso, arms and neck. You can do this while taking breaks at your desk, while waiting in line at the mall, and of course, at home.
  • Limit your commitments. Sometimes just saying “no” is the best thing you can do for your health, especially when holiday demands pile up.
  • Make time for you. Find something that relaxes you and then make time to do it, whether it’s reading, listening to music or taking a warm bath.

After the holidays, consider more long-term solutions to reduce stress every day:

  • Find a support group or stress-management class. You’d be surprised how many hospitals and even community colleges offer workshops on how to manage and reduce stress.
  • Enroll in a yoga class. Yoga has been shown to have tremendous benefits in reducing stress, and there are classes for all fitness levels, including classes you can do while sitting down.
  • Eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep. Poor lifestyle habits are as bad for your stress levels as they are for your heart. Read about heart-healthy holiday food choices here.

Remember: If you suffer from Afib, there are treatment options that can help. EP Doctor Dilip Mathew provides state-of-the-art cardiac ablation treatments to patients in and around Tampa, Sarasota and throughout West Florida / the Sun Coast. To learn more abut Afib treatment options, schedule a consultation today.