Did you know that sharing your love will lower your stress hormones, cholesterol and blood pressure as well as boost your immune system?
To get all these benefits, though, you need to express your love, not just feel it.
You can say “I love you”, write a note or send a text to say “I’m thinking about you”.
Hugging, listening and offering to help with chores are all ways of showing your love too.
Just being in the presence of someone who greets you with a smile and is glad to see you, can lower your levels of adrenaline and cortisol, when you’re having one of those days when everything’s going wrong, and create a greater state of neurochemical balance – meaning you’ll feel better both physically and mentally.
Did you also know that when you feel secure in yourself and in your relationships, your stress levels go down?
Making it a habit to share your love and be compassionate towards others (as well as yourself) will even protect you against the effects of stress as people with more affection in their lives produce more oxytocin when they’re stressed than their counterparts.
Basically, the more affectionate you are, the less stressed you’ll even be able to get.
When you’re generous with your affection, your body will produce much less cortisol and your blood pressure won’t spike as high as if you’re more withheld.
Funny how Mother Nature do dat!
Expressing the love that you have in yourself is the best way to grow the amount of love you have in your life.
When you’re in a loving state, you’re sending off the kind of vibes that will resonate with other people.
When you’re in a loving state, you have more awareness of yourself and your own emotions because you’re in a state of gratitude – rather than being stuck in a negative state of mind or worrying about a ton of things.
By telling the people in your life that you love them, you’re not just making them feel loved but you’re also keeping yourself optimistic.
You may think that the most obvious way to tell someone you love them is to simply say it.
And though that’s clear and to the point and you should use it generously, there are a lot of other things you can do show that you genuinely care for the other person so much that you know how to say “I love you” in more than one way.
#1 Hug the people you love often – it has proven benefits!
Physical contact is so important to us – from the very beginning, touch is how we communicate love and care.
A hug is encouraging, protective and restorative all at once.
We hug when we’re happy, we hug when we’re sad, we hug when we’re tired, we hug as a greeting and we hug to say goodbye.
Hugging is universally comforting and it’s scientific fact that hugs make us healthier and happier.
Hugs reduce stress, boost well-being and decrease anxiety by making us feel that we’re not alone.
Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and twelve hugs a day for growth”.
So, go on, grab your near and dear and show them some love!
#2 Learn how to listen
When you become a good listener, you’re taking the time to hear what the other person is really saying instead of listening simply to formulate a reply.
Everyone needs to be heard and seen and by letting them speak, you’re not only validating their experience, but you’re also giving them a precious chance to sort through their own thoughts.
Being a good listener is something that you can cultivate everywhere – with your family, friends and at work.
That way share your compassion with everyone you meet.
When you feel like someone has a lot to get off their chest, let the silence work it’s magic most of the time (all you have to do is wait, the other person will fill it) and you can prompt them to tell you more by asking, “Is there more?”.
Being listened to will make anyone feel good and you can bet that they’ll remember that you were the one who gave them this simple gift.
#3 Be honest – even when it’s uncomfortable
When you aren’t being honest with someone, you’re telling them that you don’t respect them enough to be honest with them.
Being honest doesn’t require you to be cruel though.
Starting sentences with “I think” and “I feel” is a good way to make sure that what you’re talking about is your subjective experience.
When you have something unpleasant you need to share, think about what it is that you’re really saying and why you need to say it.
#4 Leave some lovely notes
In this day and age, we rarely get any kind of notes (let alone letters!) anymore.
Leaving a little note behind to let your loved ones know you care is a really nice and personal way to keep in touch.
You can just jot down a note when you’re heading out and include things like “love you!” or “thinking of you!”.
#5 Be thoughtful and consider what their needs are
When you show someone that you’re thinking of their likes and needs, you’re telling them that you pay attention.
Some people want to sit and talk about their day to feel cared for, others feel the love when you clean the kitchen and pretty much anyone with little kids will hail you as their saviour if you show up with a ready cooked meal and take care of the laundry.
Knowing what kind of things make the people in your life feel loved is important.
There’s no point in busting your ass cleaning the kitchen if the other person just wants you to sit down over a cup of tea for a chat. If you don’t know what makes people feel loved, ask!
#6 Sharing is caring
Whether this is helping someone out financially or donating to a charity, giving someone your time and energy or sharing knowledge that you have, sharing what you have is caring.
Helping someone out with their move, cooking food for your sister who just had a baby, weeding the neighbour’s garden when he broke his leg or watering your mom’s plants while she’s on holiday may seem like little things but can make a huge difference for the person you’re helping.
If you’re not sure how to help, you can always just say that you have three hours on a Sunday afternoon when you’re coming over and they can tell you what needs to be done.
The best way to find out if someone needs help is to just ask.
You’d be surprised at the things people will be happy to accept help for!
If you want to take it a step further, you can always go volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, join a mentoring program or even offer cleaning help to an animal shelter.
There are plenty of non-profit operations out there that will be glad for a helping hand, so ask if they need something specific or offer to help them out with something you can do well.
#7 Share some laughs
Did you know that laughter releases happiness hormones?
In fact, laughter is so powerful, that it can have the same effect as drugs (but without the nasty side effects).
The hormone responsible for this happy feeling is dopamine and, unlike with drugs, laughing doesn’t require a stronger dose to keep you feeling good.
So, give your loved one a dose or twelve of laughter.
When one of us is feeling a little low, me and my husband usually hunker down on the couch together and watch a good stand-up special (usually one that we’ve seen before so we know it’s a good one!).
It can also be sharing a joke or showing them a funny gif someone sent you today.
The smallest stuff counts too and sometimes a well-timed gif can make your day.
Sometimes a simple smile can do wonders and you should smile often!
#8 Do something out of the ordinary
We get stuck in routines so easily.
Especially, as a very sensitive person, I thrive on a quietly humming routine that carries me through the week with minimal surprises.
But sometimes you just need to shake it up a little, maybe a change of scenery.
As nomads, humans evolved to move around different territories in search of food and resources.
Your brain is hardwired to get a dopamine hit from a simple change of scenery.
That will then cascade into your feeling reinvigorated and inspired as you go back to your regular day-to-day.
My go-to shakin’ it up activities include going to the beach, going to museums, art galleries and book stores, going to the movies in the middle of the day (cheaper tickets and half-empty theatres) or I may have picked a shop or studio I want to visit as a day trip.
#9 Give some praise or a compliment
This is a nice way to give your loved ones a boost in a very small way.
Just telling someone that you really appreciate how they do something or how good they are at something or how much work they’ve put into something can make their day.
If I work hard cleaning the kitchen, it makes me feel very good when my husband comes to tell me how nice it is to go into a gleaming kitchen to start cooking without having to first clean up.
Some people find it hard to accept a compliment or praise, and if you run into this – someone dismisses a compliment you just shared – you can (and should) gently remind them that it’s okay to accept compliments, tell them to let go of the self-deprecating comments and simply say “thank you”.
Receiving a compliment or praise is a wonderful thing and by simply accepting it, you’re both respecting the person who just shared it with you as well as training your brain to focus more on gratitude.
#10 Give some encouragement
We all change over time.
Our interests change as our experience shapes the way we see things.
Living life and especially surviving the challenging things make us view ourselves differently.
We change how we dress, we change our hair, we change our names and even our core values can change.
Supporting someone through their change is so important.
Staying out of judgement and not letting offhanded comments slip out can be one of the more challenging things for a human being to do, but it’s worth it.
If you make a mistake, ask for forgiveness and reassure your loved one that you’re ready to realign your understanding of them as they progress in their life journey.
You can even give them a beautiful gift that will show them that you truly mean what you say and are genuinely there for them.
Why is it important to express your love?
Sharing your love will make your loved ones feel accepted, appreciated and supported by you.
Expressing your love strengthens your connection and shows the other person that you really value them.
You’ll boost their confidence and help them feel good about themselves.
You’re also inspiring them to reciprocate your expression of love and care to create a feedback loop of affection and consideration that will help both of you feel great.