Welcome to February, the month associated with Cupids and hearts, candy and flowers – and romance.
The history of Valentine’s Day is murky but is thought to originate with at least two martyred Christian saints named Valentine, and may have also been an effort to transform a Roman spring fertility rite into a Christian festival.
Today, the holiday is heavily about romantic relationships – but it’s also a great opportunity to broaden this focus. Why not use this month to celebrate love in all its forms, and strengthen all your connections with friends, family, and community?
It’s also a good opportunity to ask yourself which relationships have occupied most of your time and focus, and which ones need and deserve some extra attention.
Relationships of all kinds are essential to our shared human experience. Some relationships are forever, while others come into our lives just for a season – but all of them play an important and sometimes overlooked role in mental well-being.
Better Health Channel lists three kinds of connections we typically experience with others:
- Intimate connections – with people who love and care about you, such as family and friends.
- Relational connections – with people who you see regularly and who share an interest or activity with you, such as work colleagues, classmates, or a sports league in which you or your children participate.
- Collective connections – with people who share a group membership or an affiliation with you, such as people who vote like you do, or who share the same faith.
These social connections bolster our sense of belonging and enjoyment of life. Without question, healthy interactions of all kinds also have a positive impact on your mental health. Your most intimate connections, like your relationship with your family, deserve your best ongoing efforts to strengthen (and if you need help, that’s what TBH is here for).
As adults, we know (and must teach our children) that good relationships of all kinds reward us with a sense of trust, connection, and satisfaction, and can lead to exciting new opportunities and experiences. All our relationships become part of who we are and help prepare us for the next chapter of our lives. They deserve the time and effort it takes to build and maintain them.
Healthy social connections support our emotional and physical wellbeing by lowering anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that those who enjoy positive relationships typically have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and are more trusting and cooperative.
We’ve all experienced what can happen when relationships go south – whether just two people or an entire group is involved. For relationships to work, everyone must be committed. It’s not always easy – some relationships take longer to build than others.
How to nurture your relationships
Maybe you’ve moved to a new job or community, and you’d like to build new connections. Maybe you’d like to strengthen relationships that you already have. Here are five ideas to help you reach out in a meaningful way to the people in your world.
- Take time for the people who are important to you – It seems obvious, right? It’s amazing how taking a few minutes out of your day to check in or show someone that they’re a priority can make a difference and sustain connection – for instance, when you’re at work and your children are at school. Keep a positive, kind, and honest tone, share a moment together, and let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Stay positive – Bring a calm, positive attitude to your encounters and your relationships. Look on the bright side of things, let your personality shine, and take little moments to have fun. You’ll soon see how people gravitate to someone who can make them smile.
- Appreciate others– Being appreciated can mean the world to someone. If you notice someone going out of their way to help you, thank them. If your co-worker did a great job, congratulate them. If your child steps in to help when you’re run off your feet, show them you noticed. Recognize the contributions of others, however small. Showing appreciation for someone’s kindness, helpfulness, or hard work makes a big difference to any relationship, whether team or individual.
- It’s the little things that matter – Small words or acts of kindness really matter! Try texting an old friend to ask how they’re doing, pick up your partner’s favorite snack when they’re feeling down, or share a smile or a compliment with a stranger. You never know how much these actions can impact someone’s day.
- Be available emotionally – When you know someone is going through a tough time, be there for them. You may not want to intrude during a difficult time, but it never hurts to let them know you are aware, and that you care. You can simply say, “Hi, I hope you’re okay. If you need someone to talk to just know I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready.”
These days, we conduct many of our interactions and relationships online as well as in person. It’s worth remembering that the same relationship-building principles apply, and in fact, are even more important — showing authentic interest, a positive attitude, and a willingness to listen and engage.
As humans and social beings, the need to connect with others is part of our DNA. As a community and as parents, it’s on us to model and to teach our children the skills and sensitivity to communicate positively, to give as well as receive, and to see and sense how others react to us. Positive connection-building starts with each of us. So, take some time this month to ask yourself: How am I nurturing my relationships?
Need More Help?
Learning to build and maintain positive connections is challenging enough for young people, even more so if they suffer from mental health issues. A good first step is to look for a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that critical first step and ask for help if you or someone you love needs to overcome anxiety and depression or work on skills that help build strong, lasting relationships.
The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to give you the tools that will support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.
Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337.