Your Holiday Checklist—for Your Venous Health


Most of us have a seasonal checklist of everything we need to get done, usually beginning just before Thanksgiving and taking us through to the end of the year. Shopping, travel plans, gift-wrapping, food purchasing, or the litany of errands holiday prep requires—all these things tend to preoccupy our thoughts. But what about our health?

Holidays are known to be joyous but also stressful. People feel rushed or obligated to make appearances, overspend, overindulge, and to spread themselves thin. This can take a toll on our cardiovascular health. That’s why it’s important to have a checklist not only for your holiday to-dos but for your health and fitness to-dos to keep you on track for continued good health.

1. Pack the Protein To-Go.

Indulging is part of the season. Overindulging can set you back. Weight gain is notorious in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It is hard to resist the treats and second helpings of seasonal foods, whether they are at the aisle-ends of stores or brought to the office or the holiday party or the extra-sugar-filled coffee flavors at your local chain. And you don’t want to feel deprived during this season. But have a game plan of what you will allow yourself and when. Carrying extra weight is a big factor in sabotaging your cardiovascular health. Especially if you are prone to varicose veins, carrying extra weight around your middle can put pressure on the veins carrying blood back to your heart. Worried about overindulging? Have a dose of protein such as cheese before you set out for parties—and especially before you go shopping for groceries. Protein intake reduces the cravings for carbs and sugars. Pro-tip: Keep a container of unsalted nuts or seeds in your car with you for emergencies and to stave off the sweet-tooth cravings.

2. Take time to exercise.

This may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re busy during the holiday crunch. However, staying on top of a regular exercise plan, even if it’s getting out for a walk, will help you stay on track and it has the added benefit of reducing stress.

Promoting circulation is essential for healthy veins. For people prone to varicose veins, you want to give your circulation a boost in order to help pump the blood from your feet and lower legs back up to the heart. Take a morning (or evening walk), or park in the farthest parking spot in the supermarket or mall to get in a few extra steps.

3. Mind your legs if you’re traveling long-distance.

Self-care for traveling requires its own checklist. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the unofficial travel season. Airports will be crowded, flights will be overbooked, highways will be jammed, all of which can make for long periods of sitting in cramped positions. In high altitudes, pressure increases in the body, and keeping your legs still and in a tight space can lead to leg cramps, swollen legs and ankles, and even the more serious condition of blood clots. When traveling, keep the following checklist in mind:

  • Get up and walk whenever you can.
  • When standing, stretch out your legs to keep your muscles from cramping up.
  • For the times you can’t get up, point your feet and then flex them, stimulating the calf muscles to improve circulation. Make circles, clockwise and counter-clockwise, with your ankles every half hour or so.
  • Reduce your chances of swollen legs and thus reduced circulation by avoiding salty drinks on the flights (beverages involving tomato juice, especially).
  • Drink extra water the day before the flight as well as throughout the flight to keep hydrated.
  • Travel with compression socks or stockings.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to make moving in your seat more comfortable.
  • When you get to your destination, lie flat with your legs elevated to get the blood flowing more easily back to your heart.

4. Watch the cigarettes.

Smoking is terrible for vascular health. But for those who will smoke, the colder weather and increased stress tends to inspire an uptake in quantity. Smoking causes an increase in the likelihood of blood clots, and coupled with travel or seasonal stress, this could spell a massive setback or even emergency. While the best option for your health is to quit, for those who aren’t ready, there are still steps you can take. Like any craving, practice mindfulness and be alert to putting yourself in a situation in which you’d automatically reach for a cigarette. Find other ways to keep your hands busy. Don’t keep your cigarettes in an easily-accessible place, and wait for your normal breaks.

5. Book an Appointment for Sclerotherapy.

Suffering from varicose veins? Before you’re in the thick of the season, consider getting those varicose veins treated to avoid the discomfort during holiday travel or soiree marathon. Treatment can be done in a short, easy office visit in between errands or on a lunch break, and recovery time is minimal. You can still make the most of the season and do it with peace of mind.

For more information on sclerotherapy or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 760-944-9263 or visit us at