Senior Couple Preparing Dinner

It is time to get into the holiday spirit! But when you have heart failure, there are some indulgences you should keep to a minimum. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are celebrating this year.

Watch how much salt you are eating. Salt makes the body hold onto water, which can cause your feet, ankles, legs and belly to swell up. It can also cause water to build up in your lungs, making it harder to breathe. Doctors recommend limiting your sodium intake to 1,800 – 2,300 mg per day. Beware of hidden salt in some of the popular holiday dishes as well.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is often a part of holiday celebrations, but anyone with heart failure should just say no. Alcohol can make heart failure worse and can interact with your medications.

Keep your stress levels low. For some, holidays can be stressful. Body aches and pains and fatigue or lack of energy are common symptoms of stress. Stress can also cause or be caused by anxiety, fear, anger, depression, irritation, or feeling impatient, forgetful or helpless. Use stress management tools to combat stress. Take a walk or exercise. Keep busy – work a puzzle, read a book, take up a new hobby. Talk with friends and family on the phone. Play with your pet. Write down three or more things you are thankful for each day. Keeping a positive attitude can go a long way to fighting stress.

Avoid large crowds and people you don’t see on a regular basis. This is important with COVID-19, but is also a great rule of thumb all winter long when the flu and other illnesses run rampant. Avoid anyone who is or might be sick. Avoid hugs and handshakes at this time – these are big germ spreaders. Wear a mask and ask those around you to wear a mask, too. Wash your hands frequently. Instead, go to an outdoor event and stay at least six-feet away from anyone you don’t live with. Use technology to see loved ones – many people are setting up computers or tablets at the dinner table this year to have a virtual celebration with their family.