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Valentine’s Day: Tough & Sweet Love

By on February 14th, 2011 Categories: Uncategorized

Now that the blizzard of New Year’s resolutions has turned into flurries, we’re back to our regular lives and our own realities. Despite our best intentions, bad habits can block our progress and resistance to change can slow us down.

It’s time to let go of goals that may overreach our abilities and stick to reasonable resolutions that can actually make a meaningful difference in our lives.

Now Valentine’s Day is upon us. Are there resolutions about our love lives that we should take seriously and stick to? I think so! Let’s explore a few ideas, then I’ll explain how Think Pink, Live Green relates to these steps.

Tough love

I really do believe in the overused saying that you have to love yourself before you can fully enjoy love from someone else. This is where the tough love comes in. Many of us started out feeling badly about the way we look even before a breast cancer diagnosis. Then came the insults of the whole breast cancer experience: hair loss, weight gain, and fear of recurrence. Living with ongoing stress increases your body’s cortisol levels, which can have a negative impact on your immune system’s ability to protect your breast health and repair damage from the wear and tear of everyday living. The extra weight can produce extra hormones that can stimulate extra breast cell growth. Plus, extra weight can cause cell inflammation, which also stresses the cells and the immune system. So what’s the bottom line? It’s time to take steps to ease your stress and feel the love.

Let Valentine’s Day be an opportunity to help yourself feel better about the things that are dragging you down. Now is the time to align your goals and take advantage of the synergies between them. Pick one thing about yourself that you love. It could be your sense of humor, your intelligence, or your amazing ability to make people feel comfortable. (Or it could be your pretty eyes or shapely legs!) Feeling better about yourself makes a huge difference in your ability to accomplish your goals. For some help in getting you there, check out some ideas about hair loss solutions, ways to deal with the fear of recurrence, and effective steps to help figure out your healthy weight goal. And when it comes to the good karma, it’s now time to stop those harsh judgments of yourself and others. It’s time to try mindful measures such as meditation.

Sweet love

Yes, Valentine’s Day is a great time to pay attention to that special someone in your life: YOU! It’s time to build up your self-esteem and self-image. Many women I take care of feel much better about themselves when they are doing things that are fun and meaningful:

  • Zumba, which combines music and dance, as well as the chance to socialize with people in your class.
  • Get a group of friends together for a girls’ night out.
  • Get back to an old (or discover a new) hobby — gardening, crafts, cooking, or reading saucy books.
  • Treat yourself to great lingerie, a new outfit, or a cool new (or vintage) piece of jewelry.

Many of my patients also would urge me to mention tricks and toys — and I would have to agree! So yes, go to your local adult toy store for safe fun and adventure (best online picks can be found at Babeland and Good Vibrations). Besides gadgets, there are books with sexy ideas and stories to get you in the mood. Some stores even have classes (for example, New York’s Babeland offers classes such as “Find your G-spot”).

It’s important to give love a chance with others — through your everyday interactions as well as in romance and intimacy. Love is what knits our relationships together and gives us joy and meaning in life.

As you make your way through the day, each time you interact with someone try to listen more carefully and find things about the other person and your interaction that are positive. Take in the good feeling and be sure to express your warmth and love (depending on the person and situation, of course!). Each relationship can be a source of good feeling, meaning, and love.

Having someone special in your life for companionship may be what’s most important to you. It could be just one or several great friends, or it may be a sexual partner/lover. It’s great if you already have that special someone in your life. But many of you may not. While there’s no magic wand to make that special person magically appear, there are things you can do. Let your friends and family know that you’re ready to date or spend time with new people. Try new social opportunities to meet others who share your interests: walking clubs, place of worship, book groups, ski clubs, gardening clubs, or online affinity groups. Try volunteering at a local charity that does work you respect. You may also want to try online dating, even if it takes a good deal of patience.

I hope my ideas help you feel better about yourself, more optimistic about your future, and more determined to grab onto the opportunities in our lives to feel the love.

Marisa Weiss, M.D. is the founder, president, and chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org, the world's most trafficked online resource for medically reviewed breast health and breast cancer information, reaching over 14 million visitors per year. A breast cancer oncologist with over twenty years of active practice in the Philadelphia region, Dr. Weiss is regarded as a visionary advocate for her innovative and steadfast approach to informing, empowering, and treating patients with breast cancer.

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