can plant gardens
whole forests down.
– Gemma Troy
Four Zoom meetings. Six phonecalls. Twenty-nine texts. Eight Voxer messages. Four DMs. Twelve Marco Polo chats.
I’ve been connected all day, but crawl into bed feeling empty and disconnected.
Tech has most of us hiding behind screens more than ever and the pandemic pushed us right over the edge. We spend our days screen-to-screen instead of skin-to-skin. We talk in sound bites and flit from one conversation to the next. We scroll and we scroll and we scroll. Our brains and bodies have become accustomed to surface-level communication and living.
And it’s sucking the life right out of us.
Loneliness and isolation are at all-time highs, throwing our country into a mental health epidemic like we’ve never seen before. Over 40% of adults in our country last spring reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition like anxiety and depression. Substance abuse is up. And suicide is now a leading cause of death in our country.
Undoubtedly, you’ve felt a little off too, my friend. Whether it’s strained relationships, income loss, health issues, loneliness, depression, through-the-roof stress, fatigue, too much screen time, or just a royal case of the blahs, we’ve all been touched in one way or another by the hardships 2020 and early 2021 brought our way. And as a result, we all need true, deep connection now more than ever.
My suggestion? Start simple. And start with words.
- Write a meaningful letter to someone this week. It doesn’t have to be long or well-written. Sentiment matters more than spelling. But stuff it full of words that matter. Tell someone what you see in them. Express what they mean to you. Share something vulnerable. Say I love you. (Bonus points for writing a real pen-to-paper letter and popping it in the mail!)
- Use words to express gratitude. All too often we let the day-to-day grind distract us from making meaningful moments with those around us. Today, I want you to slow down with someone you care about, hold eye contact, and tell them something you love or appreciate about them. Say it imperfectly or say it with eloquence, but just say it. And mean it.
- Be vulnerable with a safe person. The social media comparison trap and our own insecurities keep many of us from being real. We’re terrified of what might happen if others see our rough edges or know the hard parts of our stories. But letting others into your story—even the smeary, scary, sacred parts—can mean healing for you and a gift for someone else. When you share vulnerably, you give others permission to shine light on their dark parts, too. This week, find someone you trust and share an honest but hard truth about yourself or your life. See what happens when you share a unseen sliver of your heart.
As a professional writer, I use words to make a living. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and if I’ve learned anything it’s this: words are mighty and magical. You can wield them for war or share them as soul balm. And they have the power to spark connection and change lives.
It’s time to reclaim some of the connection that life has stolen from us. Be mindful with your words this week. Speak with clarity and depth. Be real and raw. Pour life and love into someone. Plant a seed with your words that will grow into something beautiful.