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January Is National Thank You Month: Seven Ways to Express and Increase Your Gratitude

Acts of Kindness

There’s nothing quite like that clean slate feeling of a new year to inspire healthy new habits. And fittingly, January is National Thank You Month, offering the perfect opportunity to start (or recommit to) a thankfulness practice that, alongside spreading goodwill and kindness to others, carries plenty of benefits for both your mental and physical well-being.

According to Mayo Clinic, when you feel and express gratitude, you may enjoy improvement in your sleep, mood, and immunity, as well as a reduction in depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and the risk of disease. 

And it’s the gift that keeps on giving, to others and to yourself. Research substantiates that actions conveying gratitude have a greater impact on our health than simply feeling grateful, per Positive Psychology. Furthermore, extending acts of gratitude creates a “self-renewing, feedback loop”: The more you practice thankfulness, the more your well-being and resistance to negativity increases, making it easier to sustain that feeling of gratitude.

While smiling and saying thank you are tried-and-true gestures, and always perfectly lovely, here are seven additional ways to show you’re thankful.

Send a Handwritten Thank You Note

Yes, it’s much easier to issue a simple “thanks!” — be it spoken or sent via text or email —  but putting pen to paper, finding a stamp, and mailing a heartfelt note of gratitude to someone shows that person they’re important to you and worth the extra effort. Plus, it’s always fun to receive snail mail, especially when it’s cheery and colorful. In need of some inspiration for writing a meaningful thank you note? Check out these tips from Reader’s Digest

Get Specific

Whether you’re saying it or writing it, it’s important to be specific when complimenting or thanking someone: This means expressing why you are grateful to someone. 

“When showing gratitude, you may use general phrases like ‘thanks for your help’ or ‘I appreciate the time you spent on this project,’ but one of the best ways to show your gratitude is to acknowledge how others have specifically helped you succeed,” Kevin Daum explained in his “6 Unusual and Powerful Ways to Show Gratitude” article for Inc. “Resist the temptation to be too general. Share a specific example of what they did for you and how it made a difference. If they inspired you to push outside your comfort zone, thank them for inspiring you to take the risk, and let them know the outcome.”

This approach acknowledges the care, time, and effort that someone extended to you and shows your deep appreciation for them as a person. 

Pair Your Thank You With a Simple, Thoughtful Gift

Gifts don’t have to be expensive or elaborate to express gratitude. Small tokens that are well thought out and personalized are a tangible way to show an individual how much they mean to you. 

Delivering a plate of homemade cookies or flowers, or adding to someone’s prized collection of coffee mugs or postcards, paired with your heartfelt thank you, can make someone’s day.

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