Five things that mean more to love than Valentine's gifts (and are free)

couple embracing forehead to forehead Dr Rachel Taylor is a neuropsychologist, podcast host and founder of UNBroken. She has this advice on the five things that mean more to love than Valentine's gifts (and are free). "The brain has many different circuitry mechanisms associated with feelings of love. Below are some suggestions that mean more to love than commercial gifts."

To appreciate is to raise in value, so the appreciation of another is truly better than a gift. Appreciation of another triggers a part of the brain called the hypothalamus which is directly involved in controlling our circadian rhythm. We also get a dopamine hit which supports us to be more motivated to perform the same behaviour. The more we appreciate a person, the more motivated they are to carry on being the amazing person that we think they are.

Be(ing) Loved
Being loved and loving others is a fundamental need that is hardwired into our survival circuitry. When we have not had this need met at any time it causes us to behave and act in certain ways to meet that need. Often many people mistake this need for something else and think that retail therapy, displays of affection or peacocking (showing off) will fill this need. What people really do need is to be seen, to be heard and to be held in the highest possible regard, to be loved for who they are, and to be safe to love in return. There are so many problems in society because people do not know what love is, how to show it and how to feel it.

Being able to work with someone significant to create something of value is an action worth nurturing. Shared experiences, especially ones which involve having to work towards something are so good for the brain, so good for our social being and really rewarding for our dopamine centre. We also share oxytocin (the connection hormone) which solidifies our bond with the person we are collaborating with.

Only paying attention can lead to devotion. So, a fantastic way of showing how much someone means to you is by paying total attention to that person. Really focusing on who they are, what they are saying, what they are doing and immersing yourself in their energy. This is a great thing to do to help your brain create the best memories, overlayed with the most positive of emotions that help to strengthen the mechanism between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. Give someone your attention and they will feel that devotion.

Joy is a primordial emotion that human beings can feel even in utero. Joy underpins our humanity. The way we connect, how we can transcend the ordinary, and how we can bring magic into everyday occurrences. Being able to share joy with another is something that does not need to be a costly affair; it can be star gazing, forest bathing, beach walking, painting, baking, dancing, singing, listening to music, or any activity that utilises the senses to connect you both with something outside of yourselves. This is joy and it is magic.

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