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Valentine's Day, IC Style - Random Acts of Candy Kisses & More!

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  • Valentine's Day, IC Style - Random Acts of Candy Kisses & More!

    Author Jill Osborne MA
    February 13, 2011

    I refuse to feel sad on Valentines Day. Yes, I'm single and, gasp, alone. (Note to self: Get real Jill, you have an awesome family who loves you. You are definitely not alone). Yes, I can't eat chocolate without paying a heavy price. (Note to self: Carob or, for that matter, sugar cookies taste just fine!) Yes, I get that little ache when I think about the boyfriend I broke up with on Valentines Day years ago (Note to Self: His loss, not mine! ). I am living proof that Valentines Day can certainly stir up our emotions in many unpredictable ways and when you have IC, it's easy to think about what you can't do, rather than what you can do. So, I'm going to remind you of what you can do today to enjoy the moment.

    Tip #1 - Give Hugs Frequently

    Do you know that a simple hug may actually boost the immune system of your partner or family member? According to a recent story on CNN "Touching Makes You Healthier", a simple embrace 'floods the body with oxytocin, a "bonding" hormone that makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other, lowers cortisol levels, and reduces stress. Women who get more hugs from their partners have higher levels of oxytocin and lower blood pressure and heart rates, according to research done at the University of North Carolina.' (1) If you have no money for gifts or fancy roses or whatever, have no fear. A hug can be far more powerful and comforting than a box of chocolatesthat is likely to irritate the bladder.

    Tip #2 - Give Your Partner A Massage

    Attention partners! This is a great day to offer your partner a massage and it might help improve their health and reduce their pain levels as well. Researchers in Sweden measured the immune function of a group of healthy adults who received either a swedish massage or a light massage. Of course, we know that a massage relaxes muscles and reduces stress, but did you know that they also trigger the release of white blood cells which help the body fight viruses and other pathogens. Patients who received Swedish massages also had fewer types of inflammatory cytokines associated with autoimmune diseases.(1)

    Tip #3 - Hold Hands

    When you have IC and face a myriad of uncomfortable tests and nights in the bathroom, sometimes you just need to know that someone cares and is there for you! Holding hands is the easiest way to show that you are present and attentive but there's even more benefit to it. Researchers in Virginia have determined that when a woman facing a stressful situation holds the hand of another person, their anxiety and stress levels dropped so substantially that it could be seen in brain scans. "Even more intriguing: When you're in a happy relationship, clasping hands reduces stress-related activity in a brain area called the hypothalamus -- which lowers the levels of cortisol coursing through your system -- as well as in the part of the brain that registers pain, which actually helps keep you from feeling it as much." (1) My suggestion? Hold hands with your family members as frequently as possible!

    Tip #4 - Your Words Count

    Valentines Day is about honoring family and your relationships, not only with your partner but also your friends and family. When was the last time you gave them a spontaneous hug, kiss and said "I love you." If not within the past 24 hours, do it today!!! Look your child in the eyes and say "I love you and am so proud of you." How about putting a note in the briefcase of your spouse to remind them just how much you love them. Whether spoken or written, you have the power to inspire someone today and put a smile on their face. Go for it!

    Tip #5 - Commit Random Acts of Candy Kisses

    No matter how we look at it, Valentines Day is hard to experience without a partner by your side. Reach out to your single friends in a funny, spontaneous way. Put a surprise bag of valentines goodies on their front door step and then call them from your car! Send them a funny email! No sugar needed! How about some fresh fruit or cute little collectible instead.

    Tip #6 - Treat your mate to something that they love.

    Yeah, yeah! We know that you'd rather be playing computer games than watching a romantic girl flick or horror movie.. but if there was ever a day to do something that you might not normally do, it's Valentines Day. So get out of your own head and into theirs and ask them what they'd like to do. You can handle two hours without World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, cuddling with your mate on the sofa. You know you can!

    Tip #7 - Get thee out of thy house

    For my single sisters and brothers out there, Valentines is also a day when you can pamper yourself. Schedule a massage, facial, date with the girlfriends or guys. Don't stay at home unless, of course, there's a blizzard outside the door. Yes, you might not have a mate today but that doesn't mean you won't meet him or her tomorrow! Remember, they won't magically appear at your home. You meet the best mates when you're doing something meaningful and fun for you because they will likely have the same interest.

    Tip #8 - Enjoy Intimacy

    Would you believe me if I told that you that having sex regularly, even solo sex, may help prevent illnes? Researchers at Wilkes University determined that "people who had sex once or twice a week had 30 percent more infection-fighting immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva than those who didn't do the deed as often."(1) Having IC, though, can make sex challenging. Focus more on touching and stroking which floods the body with endorphins and oxytocin. Check out the ICN Sex and Intimacy Center for tips and suggestions on how to make sex more IC friendly and comfortable.

    Reference (1): Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, Touching Makes You Healthier,, January 5, 2011
    Would you like to talk with someone about your IC struggles? The ICN now offers personal coaching sessions that include myself, Julie Beyer RD on the diet and Dr. Heather Howard on Sexuality.

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    Please remember that the information on the ICN is provided with the understanding that ICN, its founder, staff, volunteers, and participants are not engaged in rendering medical or professional medical services. We cannot and do not give medical advice. Only your personal physician can do this for you.