Managing your Blood Pressure During the Holidays: 6 Tips to Keep it in Check

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Managing your Blood Pressure During the Holidays: 6 Tips to Keep it in Check

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

November 18, 2022 / Read Time 5 minutes

Keep your holidays happy and healthy without adding any additional stress. Read on to learn six tips to help keep your blood pressure in check during the holidays. 

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Monitoring your blood pressure during the holidays can be challenging. For the 80 million Americans with high blood pressure (hypertension), extra caution should be taken during the holiday season. Changes in routine and increased stress can have adverse effects on your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to serious health complications if left untreated or if your current treatment plan goes ignored.

The holiday season has the potential to distract you from your blood pressure health. The holiday season can be filled with stress, salty foods, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and many opportunities for missed medications. These combinations can potentiate your blood pressure health in the wrong direction. Potential saboteurs to healthy blood pressure during the holidays include too much stress, salty foods, alcohol consumption, limited exercise opportunities, and inconsistent medication compliance.

  1. 1

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  2. 2

    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  3. 3

    Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Manage Stress

Emotional stress can increase blood pressure, especially during the holidays. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people report feelings of emotional stress during the holiday season. Lack of time, financial pressure, traveling, gift-giving, and family gatherings are all reasons for emotional stress.

Stress releases certain hormones called cortisol and adrenaline which can increase blood pressure. Naturally, these hormones are released so your body is ready to react with the “fight or flight” response. However, if your body is in a constant state of “fight or flight,” this causes damage, as your body is not meant to always be in this state.

Cortisol and adrenaline surges can cause damage to your body over time. These hormones make your heart beat faster and constrict your blood vessels. Increased heart rate and blood pressure cause increased stress inside your body. You may not feel the effects of stress until it is too late, which is why it is important to manage stress on a daily basis. Ways to manage stress during the holidays include:

  • Exercise

  • Plan ahead

  • Set boundaries and know your limits

  • Take time for yourself

Chronic stress can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices like missing medication doses, letting your diet slip, or drinking too much alcohol.

Be Mindful of Medications

Being mindful of medications during the holidays helps with compliance. Taking medications on a daily basis is difficult. Adding the hectic whirlwind of the holidays makes remembering to take your medications even more challenging. Being mindful of taking your medications during the holidays is something to practice. It is easy to put your medications and health on the back burner to get all of your holiday tasks completed. Traveling during the holidays may also get you off of your routine. Make sure to put your health first so that you are there for your family and friends as your healthiest self.

Use the power of technology. You can download apps on your phone or set alarm reminders to take your medications. Having a plan before the holidays is the best way to prevent a slip-up. Some apps have features to add family and friends, with your permission, to your account that can notify them if you forget to take your medication. Other apps offer an AI-powered virtual medical assistant to help answer questions about your medications, medication alerts, and foods to avoid when taking your medications.

In addition to taking any of your regularly prescribed blood pressure medication, it is important to be aware that over-the-counter medications (OTC) can contain ingredients that increase blood pressure. The holidays go hand in hand with the cold and flu season. Cold and flu OTC medications can have ingredients that naturally increase blood pressure in everyone. If you are already diagnosed with high blood pressure, these medications will increase your blood pressure even further. It is important to speak with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications for cold and flu symptoms.

  1. 1

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  2. 2

    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  3. 3

    Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Watch Out for Sodium

Watch out for sodium (salt) during the holidays. Holiday treats are tasty but are often loaded with salt. There is a strong relationship between blood pressure and salt. Eating too much salt can make it more difficult for your body to get rid of fluid. This build-up of fluid increases your blood pressure. Salt leads to water retention in the body, therefore, an easy solution is to reduce the amount of salt you eat.

A low-salt diet is used to treat and prevent high blood pressure. Choose foods low in salt, limit the number of salty snacks you eat during the holidays, or if you do not know if foods have too much salt, make sure to not add any table salt to any food. Have a plan before you go to any family or work gatherings. Sometimes you can eat a healthy meal at home before you go to the party so that you are not tempted to overindulge. Another option is to bring a low-salt dish to each gathering; that way you know there is one item you can eat.

Limit Alcohol

According to the American Heart Association, alcohol can raise blood pressure. Men should consume no more than 2 drinks per day while women no more than 1 drink per day. When an individual drinks alcohol, it can acutely raise blood pressure. This means it can increase blood pressure in people who already struggle with hypertension. Make sure to plan if you want to cheer on a glass of wine or beer this holiday season. Like many things, moderation is key and the cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle is consistent healthy choices.

Stay Active

Staying active during the holiday season is great for heart health. Not only does staying active translate into blood pressure health, but it is also an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. 

The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both). An easy goal to remember is 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week to optimize heart health. Stay active this holiday season by doing the following with friends and family:

  • Go for a walk

  • Take a family bike ride

  • Join a holiday fun run

  • Check out your local zoo

  • Visit the local park

  • Go shopping and walk a few extra laps

  • Take a tour (apple picking, hayrides, Christmas tree farms)

  • Play football or soccer together

Managing blood pressure through the holidays can be challenging, but with the proper tools, you can keep your blood pressure healthy while having a happy and safe holiday season. Monitoring your blood pressure, managing stress, watching out for salt, limiting alcohol, and staying active are all ways to help keep your blood pressure in check during the holidays.

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