Every fall, the looming holiday season brings promises of family, food, and tests of willpower. How can you pass up all of that rich food that your family spent hours preparing? And how can you be expected to exercise when everyone wants to enjoy much needed relaxation? It seems daunting, but practicing heart-healthy habits throughout the holiday season doesn’t have to be a chore.

Manage Your Stress

Between hectic holiday travel and politically charged discussions with your relatives, it’s easy to see why people report high levels of stress this time of year. Try to focus on things you are grateful for (it is called Thanksgiving after all), such as the opportunity to see family and friends again and having some time off to celebrate. If you’re feeling too tense, take some alone time to alleviate your stress. Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as meditating or reading before falling asleep can put you in position to rest and be rejuvenated the next day.

Remember That It’s Not All About The Food

Most families see this as a time for Thanksgiving turkeys, holiday roasts, and more pies than you usually see in a bake shop. It’s all very tempting, but one way to not get caught up in the fervor of overeating is to take some time to think about other things you appreciate about the holidays. If you view the proceedings as a catalogue of different meals, you’re much more likely to place too much importance on the act of eating the food itself.

Don’t Completely Deprive Yourself

That being said, it is a time for small moments of indulgence. Portion control is the key to being able to have the things you enjoy without seriously risking your long-term health. Instead of swearing off dessert completely, ask someone to split that piece of pie with you so you can have a taste. Eat just a few ounces of turkey, and get the bulk of your meal in the form of fruits and vegetables.

Find An Exercise Plan That Works For You

If you’re the type of person who starts a crossfit routine at 6:00 AM every morning, you can probably continue what you’re doing. For most people, the holidays aren’t a time to begin any drastic new workout plans. Instead, find other ways to incorporate activity into your routine, such as taking the dog on a long walk or hiking to see the fall foliage.

If you have concerns about how the holidays will affect your heart, schedule a visit with your cardiologist or ep doctor. Dr. Mathew has been practicing in the Sarasota, Bradenton, and Tampa Bay area since 2004, and can work with you to create a plan that will have you embracing this holiday season.