7 heartfelt ways to show someone you care
Love is in the air. This is the time of year we’re often eager to show our loved ones we care with big — and sometimes expensive — gestures. We give cards, flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. We cook special meals or plan a night out on the town. But these efforts can easily add up or cause unnecessary stress to plan or buy.
The good news is that there are many ways to show our loved ones we care that don’t cost a dime — and they can even make our relationships stronger throughout the year. Here are a few to consider:
Respond to “bids”
According to Dr. John Gottman, our loved ones will often make “bids” for our attention throughout the day. These bids are when a loved one says something like, “Want to see what I made during art class?” or “Take a look at this cute dog video.” When we respond and show interest, it can strengthen the relationship.
One good way to respond to bids is by active listening. You can show your loved one you’re actively listening by paying close attention to what they’re saying. Avoid interruptions, put down the tablet or smartphone, and focus on what’s being said. You can also let them know you’re listening by nodding, smiling, or saying “I see.”
And don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure what was said. These seemingly small interactions can make our loved ones feel like we truly care about what’s important to them.
Spend quality time together
Quality time is the moments you spend with your loved ones that make you both feel closer and more connected. It could be as simple as meeting up for coffee, watching a favorite TV show, or playing board games. The activity itself doesn’t matter — what matters is how the time spent together makes you feel.
We all need extra help from time to time — and that’s OK. You can show a loved one you care by offering to help them out when you think they might be struggling. If, for example, your sister just had a baby and is feeling overwhelmed, offer to run her errands or make her a home-cooked meal so she can get some much-needed rest.
You can be your loved one’s own personal cheerleading squad. Whenever they accomplish a goal, take some time to celebrate their success. No matter how you choose to celebrate — splurging on healthy dessert, having a party, or making a heartfelt congratulations card — your loved one will feel empowered by your support.
Your loved one’s ideas, beliefs, time, and boundaries are important. Show them you care by respecting how they think and feel. Avoid showing up late for appointments, try actively listening to their opinions, and be mindful of their personal space. This will make them feel valued and appreciated.
Say thank you
Showing appreciation can make your loved ones feel good about what they do. How you show gratitude could be as simple as saying, “thank you” when they hold open a door or as powerful as writing a handwritten thank-you note for the influence they’ve had in your life.
Just be there
One of the best ways to show your loved ones you care is by being there when they need you. Listen to their stories, offer a shoulder to cry on, or hold their hand during a traumatic event.
Even if you don’t know the right words to say, by just showing up you let the other person know how much they matter to you. This is especially important if a loved one is struggling with a mental health issue like depression. You don’t need to be a doctor or therapist to offer support — listening with an open mind can help them feel understood. But if you ever do need guidance on what to say, we‘re here to help.
No matter how you choose to show someone you care, remember that love doesn’t really cost a thing. Investing the time to strengthen your relationship will matter more to your loved one than all the flower, chocolates, or jewelry in the world.