February: A Month to Focus on Health & Relationships
Article Written By: Judy Rooney, LCSW, Certified Mindset & Habit Coach, Behavioral Health, Tri-State Clearwater Medical
February is traditionally considered the “heart” month, mainly due to Valentine’s Day. But besides Valentine’s Day, it is also full of other celebrations such as the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, which has themes of reunion and hope, and the Super Bowl, which encourages gathering with family and friends. What do these all have in common? They all ask us to foster the relationships in our lives. February is dedicated to relationships and love, including self-love, self-care, and loving others.
With the continuing threat of COVID, we have come to appreciate the importance and impact of relationships in our lives. Relationships, not just the romantic ones, are essential to our well-being. To maintain these valuable connections, I like finding opportunities every month to celebrate the people that make a difference in my life. Every month seems to have a slate of dates that can prompt us to engage with others, whether it’s minor holidays like Valentine’s Day, significant days like birthdays and anniversaries, or national holidays. I know many people don’t like the consumerism that surrounds holidays; however, the holidays can be valuable reminders for us to reflect on the importance of our relationships. They also provide opportunities to engage with the people we love and care about.
February is also known as American Heart Month, which focuses on raising awareness about heart health and urging Americans to reduce their risk for developing heart disease. Part of having a healthy heart involves physical, mental, and social activities that all contribute to our well-being and overall health. Whether it is following specific dietary approaches, quitting smoking, managing our stress, or moving our bodies more, these activities are easier if we do it with others. This year’s theme, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is “Our hearts are healthier together,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Inspired by the theme created for American Heart Month, I have put together a list of suggestions that you can do to nurture your relationships and your health… because Our Hearts Are Healthier Together!
These two themes are so closely aligned; it’s a “no brainer” and a great way to enjoy another month of winter:
- Make a heart-healthy snack for the week.
- Schedule a Galentine’s get-together.
- Have a game night with family and/or friends.
- Schedule your annual physical if you haven’t done so already.
- Check-in on someone that you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Make a heart-healthy recipe at least once a week throughout the month (make it an opportunity to try a new recipe).
- Be intentional with giving yourself a daily personalized positive affirmation (true self-love).
- Plan a special “Day of Two’s” that happens twice this month and year… February 2nd, 2-2-22, and February 22nd, 2-22-22!
- Begin planning your summer family reunion so everyone has time to make arrangements.
- Practice a daily 2-minute mindful meditation or progressive relaxation exercise for a whole week, focusing on getting your mind and body to a calmer state.
- Pick a day and make it a sugar-free day, and then pick another day and make it a salt-free day.
- Buy yourself some flowers.
- Watch your favorite rom-com with a loved one.
- Get your heart pumping with a dance party in your kitchen for 15 minutes, or perhaps during the commercials of your favorite TV program.
- February 17th is random acts of kindness day; go ahead – spread some love.
- Honor a loved one who has passed on in whatever way brings you peace and comfort.
- Tuck a love note into a loved one’s lunch, coat pocket, or purse/book bag.
- Eat vegetarian for a day. Or try meatless Monday throughout the month.
- Protect your sweetheart’s heart, plan a heart-healthy date!
- Reach out and invite someone to coffee that you’ve wanted to get to know better.
- Invite family and/or friends over for breakfast, with healthy, nutritious options to start the day.
- Invite a friend or family member to go on a walk with you, and then set it up again on a weekly schedule. Getting outside in nature can be inspiring.
- Taking care of your relationships and health is a life-long journey. Nurture both, no matter the month.