Living with heart disease may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although heart disease may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to heart disease, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.
Communicate Your Needs
Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but heart disease is making it hard to plan as usual due to symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. Stress can raise blood pressure and increase heart-unhealthy coping behaviors such as overeating, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol. You may also be managing other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as heart disease. You need to put your health first or risk worsening your condition.
Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you since you developed heart disease, it may be time to suggest an update.
If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:
Adjust Your Expectations
Even without a chronic illness like heart disease, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.
Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:
During the holidays and year-round, the members of MyHeartDiseaseTeam are here for each other. Joining MyHeartDiseaseTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with heart disease who understand exactly what you're going through.
Here are some conversations from MyHeartDiseaseTeam members about navigating the holiday season with heart disease:
Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite heart disease?
Share in the comments below or post on MyHeartDiseaseTeam.