How to Have a Heart-Healthy Holiday

Partly because of the pressures of the Holiday Season—and partly because of the effect a string of cold, dark days tends to have on us humans—this time of year often turns out to be unusually stressful. But it doesn’t have to be.

Occasional stress isn’t unhealthy. But unrelieved stress can lower disease resistance, contribute to insomnia or nighttime tooth grinding, and even affect your heart’s health.

You can actually respond physically to stress by practicing deep breathing. With your mouth closed, slowly inhale as deeply as possible; then exhale until your lungs feel empty. This technique increases your oxygen intake, which causes you to relax. It helps reduce your heart rate, blood pressure and fat levels in your blood. Good for your heart—and your wintertime peace of mind.

Be Forgiving—especially of yourself. If you're late with holiday cards, hey! There's always next year.

Take the afternoon off and catch a funny movie. There's nothing like laughter to reduce stress.

Play outside with the kids, especially if there's snow. You'll feel like a kid again yourself.

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