The last time someone popped into your head and you thought, “I should really text them to check in,” did you?
Perhaps, but maybe not. We all do it. We think of someone and mean to send a “just saying hi” text, and then we forget, or maybe we wonder if such a simple text really matters with everything going on in our busy lives.
But new research suggests that texts like these do matter. A lot.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, sending a brief message or casually reaching out to someone to check in elicits greater feelings of happiness, gratitude and appreciation in the receiver than the sender had anticipated.
Over the course of a series of 13 experiments with more than 5,900 participants, researchers asked people sending a check-in text or call (not a social media interaction) how much they thought the recipient would appreciate the gesture. Then the researchers asked the recipients of these texts how much they valued the messages. The findings of all 13 experiments showed that the senders of the check-in texts greatly underestimated how valuable the messages actually were to those who received them.
Some good news: Recent data from T-Mobile suggests people are continuing the upward trend of turning to texting even at holiday time: For instance, this past Thanksgiving, the wireless provider saw over 3 billion total messages sent, which was a 7% increase in volume compared with Thanksgiving 2021. Expectations are that there will continue to be an increase in texting around holidays like Christmas and New Year’s.
It’s information that demonstrates the power of connecting with others, even in the most brief and casual way, in our daily lives. Mental health experts have touted the use of “warmlines” that allow people to call or text a number when they need to vent or be comforted. And you may have come across a social media post inviting you to call a number that connects you to pre-recorded affirmations from kindergarteners to give you that sometimes needed pep talk (707-873-7862). All these things simply underscore previous research that has illustrated the strong link between our wellbeing and the purpose that personal connections can give us, especially as we age. It turns out a seemingly small check-in text message can have big benefits for our mental health and sense of belonging.
So next time you’re considering sending that “just saying hi” text, don’t think twice. Hit send and deliver a little dose of happiness to the world. Happy holidays!