The holidays are often thought of as an enjoyable season filled with celebrations bringing family and friends together. Although that may be true, it has also been shown to be one of the most stressful times of the year. The high demands and expectations that the holiday season brings can often cause unnecessary stress. This stress can have both physical and mental effects on the body.

When it comes to the heart, even small amounts of stress can have negative effects. It may cause issues with blood flow which could lead to more serious issues such as high blood pressure (hypertension), irregular heart rate, reduced blood flow, plaque buildup or blood clots. All of which are risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks.

So what can you do to reduce stress? Thankfully there are many options for managing stress. It is important to figure out the source of stress in order to properly manage it, and you may benefit from consulting with a professional to help with this process. The American Heart Association recommends three general tips for managing stress. These include:

  • Positive Self-Talk: This involves talking to yourself and thinking positive thoughts to help stay calm and reduce stress. An example of changing from negative self-talk to positive could be instead of saying “I can’t do this” try replacing it with “I’m going to do the best that I can”
  • Emergency Stress-Stoppers: These are small actions that you can do to help de-escalate a stressful moment. Some examples include counting to 10 before reacting, breaking down big problems into smaller pieces, taking deep breaths, and taking a break from the situation and coming back to it later once you’ve calmed down.
  • Stress-Busting Activities: Making time to take part in activities that you enjoy or make you happy is a great way to manage stress. If you have been feeling stressed it may be beneficial to do something that makes you feel good, even if it is only for a few minutes. This could mean going on walks or exercising, meditating, spending time outdoors, reading a book, or even spending time with friends and family.

Everyone experiences stress during their life but it is important to properly manage it before it becomehronic. Controlling your stress is one step you can take to improve your physical and mental health so that you can live a longer and happier life.

Northern Hearts would like to wish all our readers a happy and heart healthy Holiday Season! Thank you for all of your support during the past year and we hope to continue improving heart health across Northwestern Ontario in the coming new year.

For more information on managing stress please visit

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Submitted by Lana Ryder-Methot, Program Coordinator for Northern Hearts