February may be known for Valentine’s Day but did you know it is also American Heart Month? American Heart Month is a chance to really learn about heart disease, how it can affect us, and focus on living a healthy lifestyle.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Heart disease symptoms often go unnoticed until they are very severe. Some symptoms to look out for include chest pain, upper body discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling. We often associate heart disease with heart attacks, but it can also be a sign of chest palpitations or heart failure.

The CDC sites a few key indicators that put someone at risk for heart disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol use, and being physically inactive.

A heart healthy lifestyle includes making choices that not only benefit your physical health, but your mental health as well. How can we have strong, healthy relationships with someone else if we are not in the right mindset ourselves to do so? These relationships, along with mindful choices, just might be the thing to make your life longer and healthier, and to increase life expectancy. Having a partner, a friend, or a close family member to turn to and talk to during times of stress allow our bodies to stay calm and decompress in tough times, rather than holding it all in yourself.

So how does American Heart Month relate to Valentine’s Day or the month of February? The people in our life don’t just help eliminate stress or help manage it, but they can also be the guiding force to starting or maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Going for walks together or joining a gym with your partner provides more time together, but also leads to improved choices in eating, dieting, and physical activity; all of which greatly help reduce the symptoms of heart disease.

A healthy relationship of any form provides us with the emotional support we need to feel and stay happy, benefiting both our mental and physical health. Reduced stress, reduced pain, increased self-esteem, and a stronger immune system are just a few benefits of a happy relationship.

If you feel you don’t have anyone to reach out to or to help balance the stress, the counselors at Arbor Family are here to listen and to encourage better mental health and a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Arbor counselors are also able to help you strengthen any relationship you are in, whether it be a loved one, friend, or co-worker as a means of increasing your health. Individual help includes developing coping strategies specific to your personality and lifestyle that will equip you to respond to stress in a more resilient manner. Overall, counseling helps you to strengthen your ability to manage your stress vs just react to it, benefitting your health and your relationships.