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Writing Just 1 Holiday Card Can Make You Feel Good

Let all those emotions come out!

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Send a holiday card to a loved one via actual post.

For whenever you’re feeling: Full of joy and love; in the festive spirit.

What it is: I get it — on top of shopping for Christmas gifts, organizing dinners, getting on top of scheduling when you’re going to see family, and actually going to holiday get-togethers, the last thing you may feel like doing is writing a bunch of Christmas cards to your family/friends/child care staff/colleagues. Hear me out.

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How it can help: Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist but I find it cathartic when I take the time to sit down and write.

Much like say, working on a craft like making your own fabric gift bags, or baking cookies, writing a card helps me focus and be present. And there’s something about the holidays that makes all the emotions pour out of me, making it easier and more fun to write.

And speaking of emotions (what holiday is more emotional than Christmas?), a paper published in British Journal of Health Psychology found that when study participants wrote down their emotions, their cortisol (stress hormone) levels went down.

Past research has found that writing, whether it be a holiday card, a letter to a friend, or journaling, is linked to better mental health.

A study published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment found that expressive writing improved the study participants’ mood and overall well-being. When they wrote, their stress levels decreased and they also had fewer depressive symptoms.

Personally, when I write a holiday card, it makes me think more thoughtfully about the person I’m writing to and it makes me grateful to have that person in my life. And that’s never a bad thing.

How to get started: I would suggest not overwhelming yourself by buying a dozen or more cards and rushing to write something in them. You don’t want to feel forced to write something that doesn’t come with much meaning, and you don’t want to add more to your to-do-list and thus make you more stressed.

So, just pick a couple of people who you really want to show your gratitude towards. Maybe it’s someone who takes care of your kid while you work; or a friend who has had your back this past year, or a family member who has helped you a lot.

By choosing just a handful of people, you’re giving yourself time to be expressive and enjoy writing to someone you care about.

How it makes us feel: Writing cards gives me a lot of pleasure because it makes me feel grateful for all the wonderful, caring people in my life. And I feel incredibly lucky to have them.

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And that’s your habit of the day.

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