February is known as the month of love—a time when we put extra effort into caring for the hearts of our loved ones by showering them in Valentine’s Day themed goodies. But how often do you care for your own heart?

It’s fitting that February also happens to be National Heart Month, aimed at encouraging Canadians to pay attention their cardiovascular health. Heart health, and in particular heart disease, is often attributed to lack of exercise or poor dietary choices. Although these are major culprits, we often forget the burden that stress puts on our heart function. Even our day-to-day lives can lead to significant amounts of stress, making self-care an important part of heart health.

“We only have one body—and if we don’t take care of it, it’s not going to serve us very well,” Sandee Sharhan, Registered Massage Therapist at Align Health Centre, explains. Having dedicated her career to helping people achieve their self-care goals, Sandee has put together some tips to help take care of your heart and mind this month:

Take time to quiet your mind.

In today’s world, we spend far too much time overwhelming our brains with information—whether it be sitting in front of the television, scrolling through social media, or working behind a computer. As part of her self-care routine, Sandee spends at least an hour of her day “quieting her mind” by reading a book, or doing something with her hands like crocheting.

Move your body every day.

As a busy mother, Sandee knows how hard it can be to fit in time for yourself to workout. But allowing our bodies to move is so important to both our physical and mental health. Whether it be waking up an hour early to fit in a workout, or taking a 30-minute “walking break” at work, make a promise to your body to move a little bit every day.

Keep good energy around you.

It’s easy to let outside influences get the better of us, but surrounding ourselves with friends and family members who promote good energy is a great stress reliever (and a good excuse to be social).

Hold yourself accountable by booking “me time.”

“We have to make appointments for ourselves. In this industry, we see a lot of people at the end of the year who are trying to catch up on their massages. If you make an appointment, you’ll have that in your books—you’ll have made that time for yourself,” says Sandee. “There are so many things that we can do that with, but we are so concerned about doing things for everyone else that we often forget to do that for ourselves.”

Remember: Self-care looks different for everyone. While some come to Sandee for a relaxing, quiet massage, others look forward to the relief from a deep, tension releasing session. Whatever your self-care style is, book your next appointment online and give your heart back to itself this month.

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