February is American Heart Month. What better time to highlight the importance of good heart health than in February, when so many individuals celebrate Valentine’s Day? This day is traditionally recognized with expressions of love for one another through the presentation of chocolates, confections and other sweets.
Other traditional gifts include flowers and greeting cards. This year, why not incorporate some healthy changes into your traditional Valentine’s Day routine?
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, spending time with your significant other can help to build stronger bonds between the two of you. You might consider things like hiking or walking that get your blood pumping and yourself into nature and help reduce your stress and give you time to talk to each other or just enjoy being outside and not stuck in an office or in the house all day. Now is also the perfect time to plan pampering sessions and escape to a state of pure bliss together, like sharing side-by-side massages and relaxation at one of the area’s most charming well-loved wellness studios. It’s an opportunity to indulge in and reconnect with that special someone. It is nice to be in the same room, experiencing the same energetic flow and leaving together in a relaxed, peaceful condition.
Who says your Valentine’s Day has to include dinner and a movie? Skip the theater and try something more adventurous with your loved one. If you live in a warmer climate, plan an outdoor date that will keep you active. Think outside the box and take your loved one on a nature hike that ends with a healthy picnic.
In colder weather, look for indoor activities that will get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Think of activities like ice skating, a trip to a local museum (lots of walking), a cooking class (cooking burns calories) or an indoor sports complex that offers fun activities to do together.
Emotional and mental health are equally as important as physical health. Learning how to express your emotions is not only good for your relationships, but can improve your overall health in two ways.
- The brain is a muscle, and just like other muscles in the body, the brain needs to be exercised to stay healthy. Tapping into emotions and learning how to communicate them effectively works those brain muscles, helping to keep them alert and healthy.
- In addition, expressing your emotions will help you maintain a healthy emotional balance, which will have a positive effect on your relationships with others. Instead of browsing through cards in local stationary stores, write your own Valentine’s Day sentiment or poem. Or surprise your spouse by taking a vacation day from work and enjoying Valentine’s Day at home. Have a relaxing morning together on the porch, deck or patio. Then go to a favorite restaurant for lunch. On individual note cards, write why you love your spouse. Insert these cards in a small photo album. Fill a jar with Valentine candy and notes for your spouse. Notes could also express your love and respect. Individually roll each note and tie it with a ribbon.
Next to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. Many restaurants offer a select menu with special meal options offered at a set price just for Valentine’s Day. These specials are often hearty dishes complete with rich sauces and heavy dressings. In addition, many of these specials will include an appetizer, soup or salad, entrée and dessert. Not only is this abundance of food unnecessary, but overeating can leave you feeling sluggish and too tired to do anything else. For a healthier Valentine’s Day meal, treat your loved one to a home-cooked meal derived from fresh, natural ingredients.
Let your gushy heart be your guide, and go full-throttle on the romantic gestures, starting with flowers. Many people enjoy a surprise bouquet (especially if you remember she prefers wildflowers over roses) delivered to their offices, where they can brag about the person who was thoughtful enough to send them. QCBN
By Amanda Barnett