Little tokens of affection can provide a simple way to let our loved ones know we’re thinking of them; a small gift can make a big impact on someone’s day or outlook, just as much as a phone call or postcard sent with a loving kiss. Although we’re programmed to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day (among other key dates,) it can be restrictive and lends us to forget all those other opportunities to say ‘thank you’, ‘how you holding up?’ or simply ‘I saw this and thought of you’. Whether it’s my fiancé bringing me a bottle of Diet Coke and a Creme Egg home from the petrol station, a text from a friend to ask if they can help with anything during a turbulent time, or my sister finding a book she knows I’ll love, it’s those little things that put a smile on our faces and let us know we’re not forgotten.
Right now Jo Malone are running a campaign called ‘Just Because’ that
really struck a chord with me; little gifts given ‘just because’ can
make such a difference to someones day, brightening their outlook or
ensure they know there’s always someone at the end of the phone. I’m
always on the lookout for bits and pieces for my friends and family to
ensure they feel loved; that could be a candle for my Nan’s fireplace, a
pack of donuts for my Grandad or a novelty mug for my tea-loving sister, but it could also be a hand written card for them to open, a phone call when they least expect it or a bunch of flowers delivered to their door. It’s not about flashing the cash or
spending a fortune, but sometimes picking up a little something extra
can make someones day.
Although Jo Malone are undoubtedly trying to get
us to buy more bottles of perfume, the sentiment that underpins the idea
is a beautiful one: that we should all be making an effort more often
than twice a year to show people that they’re loved. Because loneliness is an increasing problem that’s more than just emotional. According to research, loneliness and social isolation increases the likelihood of death by 26% due to the harmful impact is has on our health. Lacking
social connections is a comparable risk factor as smoking fifteen
cigarettes a day, and can be worse for us than obesity and physical
inactivity. Age UK have stated that over 40% of older people deem the
television to be their main form of company, while around 11% of those
in retirement age see friends and family less than once a month. With
over half of those aged 75 and over living alone, it’s unsurprising this
is becoming a serious issue – but it’s one that’s also prevalent across
all ages and demographics too.
In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation found loneliness to be of greater concern among young people than the elderly, with the 18-34 year olds surveyed more likely to worry about feeling alone and to feel depressed because of loneliness than the over-55s. That’s really quite shocking. The growth of social media has proliferated the problem of loneliness, as we all strive to portray an idealistic version of ourselves online and expect to have social lives that match up to the media; however, in reality we’re often sat in our PJs eating two-day-old pizza while wondering where the hip parties are at. Working for yourself is also hard, as sometimes I could easily go three or four days without speaking to anyone other than my fiance – so I force myself to Starbucks just to have a conversation with the barista. In a nutshell, you can never know what people are going through and what a positive impact that quick text or small gift can make on someone’s day/week/month/year.
I may have started this post as a way of saying ‘show your loved ones you care’ and ended it with a message of serious mental health concerns, but the underpinning concept is the same – everyone need a little pick-me-up and to know they’re important, so let us all make a commitment to make a difference whenever we can.
And there are worse ways to start than with a Jo Malone candle eh?
Mind have some helpful resources about feeling lonely and mental health problems here.
Age UK have a plethora of information, advice and support on their website here.
Donate as little as 30 minutes of your time a week to help combat loneliness; more info here.