This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year is Kindness. Evidence has shown that helping others can have a positive effect on our own mental health and wellbeing.' One way in which we can show kindness and help others around us is by being aware of each other's love languages.
I first came across the concept of love languages when I was living with around 20 other people as part of my Gap Year. Living with this amount of people has some huge positives but it also comes with its challenges. It was really important to recognise how best to support, care and love one another during that time.
Dr. Gary Chapman (author of the New York Times bestseller) presents a simple truth: relationships grow better when we understand each other. There has never been a time when we have needed to understand our friends and family better, especially those that we are living with. Gary explains that everyone gives and receives love differently. These ways of expressing and receiving love are called the 5 Love Languages and include the following: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Love languages can be applied to all relationships whether that’s within a marriage, someone you are dating, your relationship with your children, teenagers, friends and colleagues. It is how we can show those around us that they are valued, appreciated and loved, and understanding the way in which that is going to be communicated the most effectively and received.
For each of us there is at least one language that we prefer. Personally, my top one is words of affirmation, closely followed by quality time. We often give out of what our love languages are, so I love to be able to encourage and write to others as well as spending quality time with people. To found out what your top love language is you can complete the following simple quiz.
Below is a brief description of the 5 languages, looking at each one in turn, thinking about what this looks like in practice and what it could look like during this time.
Words of Affirmation
For someone whose top love language is words of affirmation, this is shown through positive, encouraging and affirming words.
What does this look like in practice…? This could look like saying encouraging words or compliments, writing a card or a thoughtful text message. It also means avoiding harsh words, or undue criticism.
What does this look like in practice during this time…? If you know someone’s love language is words, why not write them a card or send them an encouraging text message. Honestly, as someone who has words as my top love language, nothing makes me feel more valued than getting a card or an encouraging message, especially at this time.
Acts of Service
For someone whose top love language is acts of service, actions speak louder than words.
What does this look like in practice…? This looks like helping around the house, or asking questions such as ‘what can I do for you?’ It also means trying not to forget commitments that have been made.
What does this look like in practice during this time…? As we are all spending time in the house more, if someone’s top love language is acts of service, why not offer to clean, hoover, put the bins out, cook dinner, or empty the dishwasher; these acts will mean so much.
For someone whose top love language is receiving gifts, this is shown by receiving a gift.
What does this look like in practice…? This could look like giving gifts, or time, and remembering special occasions.
What does this look like in practice during this time…? Last week the buzzer went and it was an amazon delivery. I was so confused because I hadn’t ordered anything. I opened up the door to find the box with my name on it, opened it, and it was a small gift that a friend had sent me with a message. This meant so much! I have heard stories of others surprising people by dropping small gifts on doorsteps or ordering things to be delivered as surprises. Getting exciting post during this time shows so much kindness at the moment and brightens up people’s days, whether receiving gifts is their top love language or not!
For someone whose top love language is quality time, this is shown by the other person having your full attention.
What does this look like in practice…? This can look like going on walks, having no interruptions, one to one conversation. It also means avoiding being distracted whilst with the other person.
What could this look like during this time? Quality time looks different at the moment for us all, because we can’t just go and see our friends and family outside of our house. If you live in the same house as someone who has quality time as a love language, why not arrange a specific activity that means you will spend time together. You could watch a film, play a game, organise a quiz, or if you know a friend who you haven’t been able to see for a while, why not organise a phone call, facetime or arrange to do something virtually together like a bake off or quiz.
For someone whose top love language is physical touch, nothing speaks more than a hug!
What does this look like in practice…? This looks like giving a hug, or a pat, sitting close.
What does this look like in practice during this time…? At the moment physical touch is the hardest because unless we are in the same household as someone, we are having to stay 2m apart.
I asked someone whose top love language is physical touch to give an insight into how they have found this time….
“This is a strange time when you are a tactile person; it feels really unnatural and I think those in my household are getting tired of me hugging them! I have managed this change by overcompensating on my other love languages to feel loved and give love to people I know. But it’s important to remember that this is temporary and there will come a day where we can be within 6ft of friends and family again.”
By being able to know and understand not only our own love language, but also those around us, we can show kindness, and show the people that we love that they are valued and appreciated. Why not carry out a random act of kindness for someone you know, using their love language?
Never miss a Phase blog post - subscribe here