Put your heart first this Valentine’s Day


In this article:

  • Self-care encourages women to take time to do the things that help you live well.

  • There are many health benefits of self-care, including better overall health, less stress and more resilience.

  • Self-care is great for your heart health.

  • There are easy changes you can make to have time for what makes you feel happy and whole.

Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating relationships. Maybe you celebrate with your romantic partner. Or perhaps you gather with a group of friends and lift each other up. But do you celebrate one of the most important relationships – the one with yourself? After all, self-care is part of the foundation of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. So, why not celebrate yourself over Valentine’s Day?

What is self-care?

The term “self-care” is thrown around a lot these days. Before you can fully understand (and appreciate) its benefits, it’s important to know exactly what it means. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care is “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” Self-care is particularly important for women’s health. After all, women are typically the primary caregivers for their families, on top of work responsibilities and caring for their homes.

Why it’s okay to put yourself first

Let’s be real. Many of us are juggling so many responsibilities between home, work and families that we barely have time to take a deep breath. It can be challenging to set aside time to take care of yourself. But science says that putting yourself first (even just for a bit) has real benefits, including:

  • Promote positive health outcomes. Research suggests that self-care can help you effectively manage some chronic conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Foster resilience. Regularly setting time aside to do things you enjoy can help build your resilience, which in turn helps you better cope with ongoing stressors (like the COVID-19 pandemic), trauma, or tragedy.
  • Improves relationships with others. When you feel less stressed, frazzled and more focused, it’s easier to enjoy those around you. After a long bath or meditation, you’ll likely find it’s easier (and more fulfilling) to connect with others.
  • Manage stress. When we get stressed, our bodies undergo physical changes. Muscles tighten. Heartbeats increase. We begin to breathe heavier or harder. Blood pressure goes up. Self-care is an effective tool to help calm the body’s response.

Be your own Valentine

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, you probably think of romantic dinners, a weekend getaway or spending time with your partner. But you don’t need a significant other to celebrate love. Celebrate one of the best people around – yourself!

Need some ideas? Here are a few of our favorite ways to relax and unwind:

  • Indulge in your favorite meal
  • Connect with a friend
  • Take yourself on a date
  • Pamper yourself
  • Get active
  • Write yourself a love letter
  • Take a nap
  • Find your #ShePower

Put your heart first

There’s no better time than Valentine’s Day to take care of your own heart. Whether it’s through healthy eating, regular exercise, relationships or regular screenings, let this month be your reminder to protect and promote your heart health.

Foster healthy relationships

Believe it or not, healthy relationships can help improve your heart health. In fact, one study found that people who are socially isolated or lonely are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those with strong personal relationships.  

And since spending time with a friend or family member is a great example of self-care, you can accomplish two things at once. Here are a few simple ways to help foster your relationships:

  • Schedule a coffee date with a good friend
  • Call a family member who lives far away
  • Send a card or letter to a friend or family member
  • Send a text to let someone know you’re thinking of them
  • Drop off a care package for someone who hasn’t been able to get out – or just because
  • Surprise a friend with takeout from their favorite restaurant
  • Go for a hike with a loved one
  • Ride bikes with your kids

Show your heart some love

Hearts cover just about everything in February. So, it makes sense that the American Heart Association (AHA) and National Institutes of Health designate every February as National Heart Month. This month, spend some time getting to know the warning signs of heart disease and what you can do to keep your heart in top shape. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Here’s how you can take care of your heart this month.

  • Heart attacks look different in women. The most common symptom of heart attack is still chest pain, but women are more likely to experience that at rest, during sleep or during emotional or mental stress. Women are also more likely to experience jaw pain, shoulder or arm pain, stomach upset, fatigue and more.
  • There are some risk factors you can’t change. A family history of heart disease and aging can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Let your doctor know about your family history so you can take appropriate steps to monitor your heart health.
  • You can (and should) address some risk factors. There are many ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attack, including:
    • Manage chronic conditions
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Stop smoking
    • Eat well
    • Exercise

Focus on what matters most: You

Making time for self-care and your good health isn’t supposed to cause you stress. It’s supposed to make you feel your best. We understand, though, that it can be overwhelming to feel like you must fit one more item in the middle of your busy day.

One easy way to make time for yourself is to unplug for a bit. That way, instead of scrolling aimlessly on social media, you can put yourself first. Whether it’s a 10-minute guided meditation or a 30-minute walk around the block with your pup, just a little time can go a long way in improving your physical, mental and emotional health.


Find a doctor

If you have questions about your heart health or are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, find a doctor through our provider directory. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services.

Related resources

Putting yourself first: The importance of self-care

The #ShePower in you

Be your own Valentine with self-care

Stress and the heart: What you need to know

Heart health: Q&A with Dr. Shalizeh Shokooh

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Heart & Vascular Team is committed to bringing you many years of expertise and experience to help you understand how to prevent, treat and recover from cardiovascular diseases and conditions. From tips to eating better to exercise and everything in between, our clinical experts know how to help you help your heart.

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