February 14th has become synonymous with romantic gestures as men and women feel compelled to demonstrate their love by bestowing cards, chocolates, flowers and all matter of other heart festooned merchandise on their significant other.
This year, it’s predicted that total spend on Valentine’s Day will exceed £700 million, but the true ‘value’ of these gifts is questionable for the many people in the UK struggling with mental health issues.
While we’re not suggesting that you avoid the idea of gift giving completely, (there’s a lot to be said for the endorphins in chocolate!), we’re simply offering an alternative that works equally well for your partner, your child, your parent, friend, colleague… basically anyone you care about.
This Valentine’s Day, avoid the clichés and idealised romantic notions and give the gift of time. It won’t wilt, gather dust, or add to your waistline. It doesn’t need to cost anything either.
Spending time with someone can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing. The simple act of offering your undivided attention can boost happiness and feelings of self-worth long after the 14th, so why not set some time aside now.
1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem every year. Talking about it doesn’t have to be difficult but can make a big difference.
Quality not quantity!
We know that people are busy and time is a precious commodity, so it’s important to ensure that when the gift of time is offered, it delivers value to the recipient.
- Listen! Simply giving someone the space to talk and listening to how they’re feeling is really important, and can be really helpful in itself.
- Be patient! Let them set the pace.
- Try not to make assumptions – your perspective might be useful, but try not to assume that you already know what they are going to say.
Wondering how to get the conversation started? Check out the ‘Conversation Starter’ from Time to Change: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-and-stigma/start-your-mental-health-conversation/conversation-starter
The gifts are forgettable, but the memories you can make with a little bit of time can last a lifetime.
P.S. Just in case you read this post after the 14th Feb, don’t worry, there’s no ‘best-before’ date!