A Science News article titled, “Lonely brains crave people like hungry brains crave food,” revealed our brains light up when seeing social gatherings after spending time in isolation, just as our brains fire when seeing food when we are hungry.
That explained why watching events on television lately showing people smiling together have been incredibly uplifting, rewarding and satisfying for me.
With so many people feeling the sting of loneliness and isolation, February is a terrific month to connect. In reaching out to one another, you can make it Valentine’s Day all month long. You can be like Cupid, speaking all the “love languages” — gifts, words of affirmation, physical affection, acts of service and time. This makes for a great opportunity to teach your children the five love languages and how to express them.
Send gifts to express your love. Small tokens can speak loudly in the silence of our social vacuum. Drawings created by your children mean the world to grandparents who are yearning to be with them. In addition to sending out a single card, scan in their drawings and create greeting card sets to mail to the grandparents. That will pay it forward, encouraging them to also send cards to their friends and family. Make sure your children sign their masterpieces.
Mail someone their favorite tea, a lovely bar of soap, or a photograph of you together. Simple gifts can be incredibly meaningful.
Words of affirmation can be spoken over the phone, via Zoom, and through the written word. I received a postcard from a friend, and it brightened my day to know that she was thinking of me.
Kids can write poems and send them off to their BFFs.
If you think of someone who you have not seen in a while, give them a call. Make it a practice to tell people daily how much you care about them and how important they are in your life.
Even if you cannot touch those you love, create a symbol of that touch. Blow a kiss, circle your arms for a hug, hold your hands to your heart, look them in the eyes through your computer screen. If you are blessed with having family or friends available for hugs, hand holding and kisses, give them even more freely.
Providing acts of service from afar may be more challenging. Yet, they are infinitely doable. Walk your dad through doing something on the computer or a friend through fixing an item that is broken. Make a video just for them about something that they are interested in learning. Pay it forward at the drive-thru window. Build that bookshelf for your sister and leave it by her front door. Sew masks and give them away.
Time during a pandemic will look different. It could be time on the phone or time on Zoom. Do a drive-by parade with signs that you and your children have made. Ramp up your listening skills and your expertise with questions that draw out the person you are speaking with. That will make for such quality time even over a device.
Teaching your children to speak the five love languages at this most challenging time will make speaking them down the road a breeze. When the pandemic is a thing of the past, you can look back on all of the connections made with great joy.