With Valentine’s Day around the corner, have you thought about how to express your affection for someone you love who lives with a chronic illness? Chronic illness is at an all-time high in the United States, with 75% of our health care dollars going to treat such chronic illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions. Because chronic illness is invisible to others, living with the symptoms of pain, fatigue, depression, and inflammation can be very stressful.
Chocolates. The traditional gift of chocolate may not be the best idea; many chocolates are made in factories where they become cross-contaminated with gluten and other food allergens, and the sugar and caffeine in chocolate can exacerbate chronic health symptoms.
Dinner out. In fact, it’s best to avoid gifts that involve food; many people with chronic illness have sensitivities to a variety of foods. You don’t want that special dinner out to make your sweetheart sick. Also, chronic illness can cause constant exhaustion and your loved one may be more worn out more than she or he lets on. Play it safe and give something that is nurturing and relaxing. The best gift you can give may be one that offers a chance to slow down, be pampered or have time to do absolutely nothing.
Healthy and nurturing Valentine’s Day gifts
Below is a list of gift ideas that will let your sweetheart feel special, while helping to reduce the stress of living with a chronic illness and support health.
- Give your loved one a spa day. The pampering can do wonders for stress levels. Take it up a notch and enjoy a spa with her. Many couples do!
- A therapeutic massage can help relieve stress and support health. If your loved one has recently committed to a new workout routine, massage will be a welcome relief from sore muscles!
- Gift certificates to do a chore that fatigues him or her, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, or childcare. Make sure to follow through!
- Gift baskets make a fabulous Valentine’s gift. Fill it with things that support relaxation and support health, such as all-natural bath products.
- A coupon for gentle yoga classes to help reduce stress.
- A membership at the gym—for both of you — to support workout and health goals together. This is only for those who will take such a gift with a smile; it’s not a hint that they need to lose weight!
- Hand-written coupons for letting her sleep in while you get the kids out of bed and take them to an event until noon. And don’t feed them a bunch of sugar while you’re out; the results when you return home will trump all the relaxation she had!
- Write a sweet note reminding him or her that you are committed, regardless of the health struggles she is going through.
- Buy the best book you can find about his health condition and commit to reading so you can better understand how to support your loved one’s journey and discuss it with him. Again, make sure to follow through.
- Tickets to a local comedy show. Laughter is scientifically proven to be one of the best stress-relievers!
- Buy passes for you both to have a leisurely afternoon at your favorite museum or event. If you have kids, hire a babysitter to watch the kids all day.
- Make a list of 20, 30, even 50 things you love about him or her, roll it up and wrap it with a nice ribbon and place it next to the morning tea. What a way to start the day!
- A love letter or poem. Nobody has to be Shakespeare to write about love and devotion.
- Give a lovely plant to represent your growing relationship; unlike flowers that wilt in two days, a plant will be a lasting reminder of your love.
- Handwritten coupons for walks together in a nearby park or a trail in the woods.
- Whisk her away for a surprise, like a balloon ride or a romantic boat tour down the river.
- Take your sweetie to the place you met, or where you fell in love. Make sure to plan ahead for factors like weather and healthy food along the way.
- Create a handmade scrapbook of your good times together, and leave room at the end for more photos!
- Hand make a gift. Are you a great woodworker? Do you knit? Make a scarf for him to wear like a hug, or a lovely little box for her to keep her special jewelry in.