With the winter months comes the holiday season, where you might find yourself traveling, eating, and just doing more than your usual schedule. On top of all the other holiday stressors, your blood pressure is naturally higher in the winter thanks to cooler temperatures causing your blood vessels to narrow. While managing your high blood pressure year round is important, you should take extra care to monitor it during winter months.
To help you out, here are ten tips for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, as adapted from The American Heart Association.
- Watch your weight. Whether it’s maintaining a healthy weight or trying to take a few pounds off, your weight can have a big impact on your blood pressure. Watching your weight is particularly important during the months of celebratory holiday meals and treats.
- Eat a healthy diet. Going hand in hand with watching your weight is eating a healthy diet. Focus on a well-rounded, heart healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated and trans fats.
- Stay active. Dedicating just 30 minutes a day to exercise (whether it’s going for a run or dancing in your kitchen while you cook dinner!) can help your high blood pressure by helping you work toward a healthy weight and lowering stress.
- Avoid illnesses. Cold and flu season can be difficult to avoid, but take necessary precautions like washing your hands and getting plenty of sleep. Consider getting a flu shot, particularly if you suffer from heart disease.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, If you drink, be sure to consult with your doctor on what is an appropriate amount.
- Don’t smoke. Though avoiding tobacco is good advice for a myriad of health reasons, smoking cigarette increases your blood pressure and your risk for blood clots.
- Read your medicine labels. This is particularly important for over-the-counter cold medicine, as some decongestants actually raise your blood pressure and could interfere with your other medications. Double check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure.
- Take your prescriptions. If you manage your blood pressure with prescription medicine, make sure to be consistent with your dosage to keep you on track.
- Check in with your doctor. Stay informed about your condition so you can make the best choices for your health. Regular check-ups are important for maintaining a course of care.
- Reduce stress. Easier said than done, we know, but take some time for yourself and engage in your favorite stress reducing activity—whether it’s talking to a friend, taking a bath, or reading a book.
Here’s to a happy and healthy winter!