It feels like just yesterday, we were enjoying warm weather and summer cookouts – it’s hard to believe the busiest time of the year is just around the corner!

While many look forward to the holidays, the additional stressors of the season can be overwhelming – especially for those who have recently experienced a heart event. Don’t let the hustle and bustle throw your health goals off-track!

As you prepare to navigate the pace, parties, and expectations of upcoming festivities, it’s important to keep all you’ve learned in Cardiac Rehab top of mind. In keeping Pritikin’s Three Pillars: Regular Exercise, Heart-Healthy Nutrition, and a Healthy Mind-Set, at the forefront of your wellness routine, you can keep yourself on track through the holiday season and beyond.

Healthy Mind-Set

With all there is to do during this time of year, things can get more than a little hectic and stressful. Making sure to check in with yourself and your stress levels on a regular basis can make a big difference this season. I encourage you to take time to slow down and remember the simple joys of the season. Here are some ways I will be managing my stress levels in the coming weeks:

  • Take time for yourself. Practice deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery to put you in your best frame of mind.
  • Get plenty of rest. When you are well-rested, your body and mind can function at an optimal level.
  • Communicate! Enlist the help of family and friends so your to-do list becomes an all-done list.

Visit our archive of healthy mind-set articles for additional ideas on how to prioritize your mental health and manage stress.

Heart-Healthy Nutrition

The holiday season is filled with treats, to keep on-track, practice these simple strategies:

  • Plan meals in advance. Do not let a busy schedule lead you to hasty last-minute decisions.
  • Prepare and freeze food to enjoy in the days ahead. During busy nights and weekends, you could have a hearty and delicious soup or stew waiting.
  • Do not go hungry. If you arrive at a party hungry, you may be more tempted to fill up on whatever is within arm’s reach. Have a snack before you go. Better yet – bring a Pritikin-friendly recipe to share!

For more heart-healthy nutrition tips and ideas, I encourage you to visit our website for a collection of articles written by myself and other Pritikin ICR Dietitians.

Regular Exercise

We have many resources to help you stay on track with your fitness goals but here are a few that I like to keep in mind while I’m rushing about. Holiday Shopping can be a great way to work out– and not just your wallet!

  • Park further away from the entrance. Since up-front parking is usually at a premium, save the wait time and frustration of snagging a close spot and park further from the entrance.
  • If you arrive at your local mall before it opens, you can take-in the decorations and window displays before the hustle and bustle begins while you get in your steps.
  • Skip the escalators and elevator and take the stairs.

In prioritizing your mind-set, nutrition, and exercise throughout the holiday season, you might be surprised at how much more you’re able to enjoy the season. With a little forethought and planning, you can maintain your healthy approach while still enjoying all this magical time of year has to offer.