a hand offers a platter of anatomical heart shaped cookies

Community Shares: Tips for Surviving the Holidays While Living With Heart Failure

The holidays can be a challenging time for many people. When facing the coming season while living with heart failure, it may be tempting to focus on what you might be giving up – but there is still much to enjoy.

To find out how the community makes the most of the holiday season, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page. We asked you to tell us: “What are some tips for getting through the holidays with a heart failure diagnosis?”

More than 100 people living with heart failure responded. Here is what was shared.

Self-care and setting boundaries

One of the biggest tips on surviving the holidays is regularly checking in with yourself and assessing how you are feeling. If you are tired, it is okay to take a nap or excuse yourself from visiting with people or whatever activity is going on. Taking breaks may mean you miss out on some events, but you will feel better and more present during the activities you do say yes to.

“Live your life. Do what you enjoy. If you need a nap, take it and do not feel guilty. If you cannot eat something because it is too salty, do not eat it. If you want to hug someone and they are in your safe bubble, then do it. If you cannot hug them because they are not, tell them you wish you could and that you love them. If you need to be alone, be alone. None of us has an expiration date on our foot, so just live your life!”

“Give yourself ‘me’ time.”

Smaller portions

There are a lot of dietary restrictions when it comes to heart failure. If you follow the suggestions most of the time, you may find that a little indulgence on a holiday is okay. However, to avoid physical discomfort, community members shared that they fixed themselves smaller plates or ate a full meal but took a break halfway through to take a walk or stretch.

“I have found that if I fix my plate, eat half, get up and walk around in the house for a little and then eat the rest, I do better.”

“Try to make sure you do not overindulge with food, alcohol, etc.”

“Have a little of everything you like, just smaller portions to avoid that bloated feeling which makes it harder to breathe.”

“Partake in moderation because you are the one that has to face tomorrow’s consequences from today’s activities.”

Each day is a blessing

Many in the community shared that they find it helpful when they take the time to be grateful. This practice is especially helpful during the holidays, as it is all too easy to get caught up in the rush. When you can, pause and be grateful for another holiday, another holiday meal, a beautiful display of lights, or whatever you enjoy most about the season. This practice can help you slow down and enjoy the time with family and loved ones – and anything calming is always good for the heart.

“I do not forget to count my blessings! Thanks to God, I am still alive! This has not been easy for me. I still have side effects, so I am still trying to get a stable medicine routine. Thanks for every prayer!”

“You can count every day as a blessing.”

Enjoy making new memories

The holidays are often the times we remember when we look back, so it makes sense to do what you can to create new traditions. This could be doing a holiday craft project, taking a drive while sipping hot cocoa and looking at holiday lights, reading a beloved book together, or whatever feels significant. There is no wrong way to make memories with loved ones.

“We have been creating our own family traditions so our kids can look back with nothing but loving memories and happiness.”

“Make the most of every holiday with your loved ones.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their holiday experiences and suggestions for this story. We appreciate you.

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