This Valentine’s Day, instead of a romantic letter, I want to take time to write an expression of love, unity, and joy to all of us who have endured such a difficult year.
Historically, it is a day to remember how cherished we are, encourage those that we love, and celebrate our partners: and this year, those sentiments deserve to be spread to all of us. As COVID’s first anniversary is upcoming, reflecting on this year shows that many of us have found comfort and strength in connection to others.
This year has brought a lot of heartbreak and stress: Loss of connection; loss of loved ones without closure; loss of freedom; and more. Economic, emotional, and social stress is at levels we have never seen before.
Researchers have even reported they have seen a large increase in “broken heart syndrome” across the nation, which is another name for an episode of stress on the heart that mimics a heart attack.
Many of us have had our lives turned upside down. Some of us are now stay at home employees, home school parents, unemployed, some of us are now unexpectedly in caregiving roles, or haven’t been able to hug a loved one in a long time.
No matter what the collection of sorrows you have accumulated this year, we’ve all had no choice but to work through the pain.
We have all had to understand depression, grief, and uncertainty and in a new, raw way that perhaps we haven’t before. There is no better antidote for this heartbreak than spreading love and joy.
Here are some ways you can connect with and show the people you love that you appreciate them:
- Cook a delicious dinner for your family or deliver one to loved ones who don’t have the ability to cook, dine-out, or use finances to afford something nice;
- Unplug and be present. Put those devices down and give your loved ones some of your undivided attention;
- Send snail mail cards to your loved ones- who doesn’t smile at a hand-written letter!;
- Donate non-perishable food items to your local pantry to help make Valentine’s more special for families in need!;
- Do something nice for someone you admire or who has helped you through this tough year to let them know you appreciate them, even if its something as simple as sending a text or a note; and
- Continue wearing a mask and social distancing to protect those you love <3.
If you see a friend or family member is struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction issues in our complicated COVID world, a gentle reminder about seeking medical or behavioral health help is a truly loving and caring message, too.
We’re here to help.
I hope everyone remembers that they are worthy of love and share the sentiments of Valentine’s Day with those in your lives and your communities. Human connection is a powerful thing, and together we will see this through.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Spectrum Health to you!
By Shannon Schwarberg, MS
Senior Program Manager of Special Project Development
Spectrum Health and Human Services