Small acts of kindness can have a big impact. Not only does offering support to your loved ones show you care, but you can benefit from it, too. Studies show that helping others can reduce stress, increase happiness, and even help you live longer.
Here are 7 simple ways to connect with your loved ones — and let them know that you care.
1. 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 cat video.”
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. 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 of what was said. These seemingly small interactions can let our loved ones know we truly care about what’s important to them.
2. Practice mindfulness
It can be easy to get distracted by multiple screens and to-do lists. So when you spend time with loved ones, make a point to limit interruptions. Put down your tablet or smartphone, and focus on staying present. Show up on time, actively listen, and avoid multitasking. If you don’t have a lot of time, consider having a 5- or 10-minute phone call. Giving your undivided attention will make your loved one feel valued and appreciated.
3. Lend a hand
We all need extra help from time to time — and that’s OK. You can show someone you care by offering to help 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.
4. Have an attitude of gratitude
Showing appreciation can make people feel good about what they do. How you show gratitude could be as simple as sharing a kind word or as meaningful as writing a handwritten thank-you note for the influence they’ve had in your life. And expressing gratitude can remind both you and your loved one of the positive parts of your lives.
5. Celebrate success
When your loved one accomplishes a goal, be their own personal cheerleading squad. Take some time to celebrate their success and show interest in their life. No matter how you choose to celebrate — sending them a greeting card in the mail, taking them out to dinner, donating to a charity or cause that’s important to them in their name — the other person will feel empowered by your support.
6. 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 can be as simple as meeting for coffee, watching a favorite movie together, playing a board game, or even chatting on a video call. The activity itself doesn’t matter — what matters is how the time spent together makes you feel.
7. Just be there
Listen to someone vent, be a shoulder to cry on, or hold their hand if they’re going through a tough time.
Even if you don’t know the right words to say, by just being there, 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.
So, take time to show you care. You’ll strengthen your relationships and give your loved ones — and yourself — a dose of good health.