Empathy, connection and gratitude are values that are becoming ever more critical after the challenges we’ve all experienced this year. Expressing our appreciation for one another can be a much-needed salve for our collective anxiety and give us the boost of joy and purpose when we need it the most. Plus, science tells us that expressing gratitude can help increase our productivity, reduce our stress, and improve our overall well-being.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the little, creative ways they’ve expressed appreciation, or have been shown appreciation by others. Which of these will you try?

Send a handwritten card

“One way I show appreciation is by writing handwritten cards to people I’m grateful for, and sending them in the mail. I know it brightens my day to receive something personal in the mail, so I want to spread the joy to others who I appreciate.”

—Julie Smith, senior marketing specialist, Charlotte, NC

Reach out for no reason other than to check in

“The best way that I have been shown appreciation during this time is through little messages of support and encouragement. Getting a phone call, voicemail or text — simply to check in — is incredibly empowering. It can help us get through the dips of 2020. Most of us are chronically underappreciated, and we’ve forgotten how important it is to give and receive gratitude. Those little efforts can help us lift each other up.”

—Theresa Lambert, professional coach, Whistler, Canada

Send a “just because” gift

“I’ve always thought that gifting is the sweetest way to tell someone you appreciate them. There’s something about receiving a surprise gift from someone when you are sick, going through something, or celebrating a small milestone in life. I like to surprise my friends and family with the occasional present, just to show how much I appreciate them. It’s such a joy to send love and gratitude with little gifts.”

—Ma. Angela Nacpil, copywriter, Central Luzon, Philippines

Lend a hand without expecting in return

“At the beginning of March, I caught COVID-19 from a student who had returned from Italy the day before. I live on my own and didn’t know how I was going to get my grocery shopping done. One of my fellow choir members offered to pick up some groceries for me as I couldn’t get a delivery for weeks. She turned up with not just the groceries, but a beautiful bunch of white roses. She also refused to take any money in return, and simply told me to pass on the favor, — which I have now done many times for my elderly neighbors.”

—Sue Palmer-Conn, divorce coach, Liverpool, UK

Show that you remember a specific detail

“When someone remembers something that’s important to me, I know I am important to them. We all share what we like, what we are passionate about, and what we love. And when someone remembers those details, it shows they care about you and appreciate you. Asking someone about something going on in their life or something they’re passionate about can go a long way.”

—Francesco Onorato, business development, Phoenix, AZ

Get a bit crafty

“If I’m feeling grateful for a friend, I try to cut a few flowers from my garden and leave them on their front doorstep. It’s special just to get a surprise for no specific reason. With a little more time, I use my creativity for something crafty, like a quick photo collage of some previous fun we’ve had. No matter what form the gratitude comes in, it’s best to work on impulse and quickly, before the next stream of to-do’s run through your head.”

—Liz Kametz, author, coach, wife and mom, Glastonbury, CT

Write a thank you note to a stranger

“I’ve been hearing of so many heroes that have quietly stepped up during these stressful and uncertain times without any type of recognition, and it made me realize that it truly does take a community to work together and ensure everyone is taken care of. I wanted to share my appreciation to these quiet but powerful individuals, so I started to send thank you notes through the mail to these businesses, organizations, and community members to share my appreciation. These notes are anonymous, so my hope is that they bring a smile to someone’s face who gives so much of themselves to others.” 

 —Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, ON

Make a donation

“I often express gratitude by making a small donation to a local food bank or the local library or school. I have also donated blood in many people’s names to show I am thinking of them.”

 —JS, product support, Arlington, MA

What’s one small way you show appreciation for others? Share your idea with us in the comments.

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.