It’s February! The month is known for being the shortest (except we get an extra day in 2020 for leap year!), and the entire first half is devoted to Valentine’s Day. You can’t even go to a pharmacy without getting hit by candy hearts and decorations. It’s not all about romance, though. This is the perfect opportunity to show your own heart, the one that beats in your chest, some love. 

A couple of years ago, the American Heart Association put together some great tips for making your health a priority on Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for a new way to mark the occasion, we’ve got some ideas (and they work even if you’re celebrating solo because it’s all about self-care!).

Enjoy Sweets In Moderation

We’ve come to associate Valentine’s Day with copious amounts of milk chocolate, cinnamon candies, and other sweets. But, much like Halloween, it’s not an excuse to eat a whole box while watching Notting Hill on the couch.

Go ahead and enjoy, but have one or two pieces and then put the rest in the freezer. Treat yourself over the next few weeks instead of all at once. Choose dark chocolate when you can, as it contains flavonoids and antioxidants that may have heart-healthy benefits

Choose Meaningful Gifts

This year, give the people you love something from the heart. Write or find a poem that describes how you feel about them, whether it’s a spouse or a child. Consider a handmade Valentine that they can cherish forever. 

If your child’s school is holding a Valentine’s Day party in class, instead of candy, consider sending friendship bracelets, stickers, or those fun press-on tattoos. Help your child craft a personalized message to each classmate to bring more meaning to the event. 

Feast on a Healthy Meal

Spoil yourself by preparing something wonderful in your own kitchen this Valentine’s Day. If you’re coupled up, consider staying in and cooking something together. Dining solo? Put together a menu of all of your favorite healthy dishes. 

Enjoy some fresh fruit for dessert, or even a few dark chocolate-covered strawberries. Craving a glass of red wine with your meal? Studies suggest that moderate amounts of alcohol, including wine, beer, and spirits could lower your risk of heart disease.

Do Something Fun

It’s the middle of winter, but Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to do something fun outdoors. Focus on being physically active, even if it’s just a beautiful walk around your neighborhood. Show your heart some love by giving it a good workout. 

Start your morning with a run and take a new route. See if there are any dance classes being offered in your area. Go bowling with your special someone or a group of friends. Get outside and spend your day skiing, sledding, or at a theme park. 

This Valentine’s Day, commit to celebrating in ways that are beneficial to heart health and your overall sense of well-being. You’ll have a great time (and a delicious meal) without the guilt. Best of all, you’ll let the most important people in your life (including yourself) know how much you care!