Is it time to bring back thank you cards?

Sitting down to write thank you cards after birthdays and holidays was a regular tradition for many of us growing up. But how many of us can say the same as adults?

Like so many things, it seems technology has replaced sending proper thank you cards for lots of us, with 59 per cent of respondents admitting they only manage a thank you text – according to Moonpig, who polled 1000 people.

Most of us really enjoy receiving thank you cards though, with 55 per cent of the survey respondents agreeing it makes them feel loved and appreciated.

This feel-good factor isn’t one sided, either. Neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis, who’s teamed up with the brand on the research, says thank you cards can trigger reward centres in the brain for both the sender and the recipient.

Read: Making a phone call is good for your mental health

“Sending or receiving an unexpected thank you card can act as a way to bolster our social connections,” Dr Lewis explains. “Doing something thoughtful for another person makes us feel good because it stimulates three different parts of the brain – together known as the reward pathway – spread out along the underside of the brain where the left and right halves meet in the middle, making us feel great.”

We’re big fans of a thank you card. That doesn’t mean a thank you text doesn’t have its place either. After all, technology is a big part of our lives now, and sometimes there’s a lot going on.

Do it for the joy
Thank you cards are one of those things that can easily become something we ‘should’ do, rather than something we can choose to do – and when it comes to wellbeing and happiness, being aware of the difference is important.

Why? Because ‘shoulds’ can shift our focus to external expectations and how we look to the outside world, moving us away from just appreciating joy for joy’s sake. As any recovering people-pleaser will know, living life with too much focus on the ‘shoulds’ is a slippery slope! So next time you catch yourself thinking, ‘I really should send thank you cards’, try switching it up and saying, ‘I’d really like to send these thank you cards’. A subtle but impactful flip.

Read: The power of connection: Why keeping in touch is great for your health

Make it personal
Dr Lewis says when it comes to the feel-good factor of thank you cards, the more personal you make it, the better. “The giver of the kind gesture benefits from securing the relationship – the more thought the giver puts into making the message personal, the greater the impact on the other person, and the more gratitude they will end up feeling. That makes them more likely to reciprocate and do something nice in return, which is reassuring to our brains,” explains Dr Lewis.

Surprise, surprise!
Another thing with thank you cards vs texts, is the sheer fun of post with your name on it, which isn’t a bill or junk mail. “Importantly, the element of surprise is key in the important business of strengthening social bonds and has a powerful impact on our brain’s reward pathway, which is why a surprise thank you card, versus an expected text message, has more of an effect,” says Dr Lewis.

Homemade for the win
We love getting thank you cards from our nieces and nephews and friends’ kids. Not because we expect them – but because seeing their handwriting and arty creations if they’ve made the card themselves is an absolute heart booster. Plus, turning thank you cards into a crafting activity is a great way to fill a rainy afternoon.

Read: Finding joy in the simple things

Don’t beat yourself up if a text is all you manage
Thank you cards are wonderful to send and receive. But the last thing anyone needs is yet another stick to bash themselves with. Sometimes, a text is all you can manage, or a verbal thanks over the phone or in person. That’s ok. In fact, how lovely is it if somebody calls to say a heartfelt thanks? Keeping score and guilt-tripping is not what it’s about, and if this past year-and-a-half has taught us anything, it’s that we could all use a bit of grace sometimes.

Do you send thank you cards? Would you prefer to receive a thank you card or text? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

– With PA

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