The “unidirectional and asynchronous nature” of the thank-you note immediately relieves the receiver of any cognitive burden or pressure to respond. The last thing you want when expressing gratitude is for the recipient to feel stressed about writing back.

And as the icing on the cake, you’ll feel better with each note you write. As Sebastian Junger writes in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, doing something for another person, also known as prosocial behavior, rewards the giver with “an increase in dopamine and other pleasurable hormones (oxytocin) in their blood.”

Most importantly, you’ll find yourself having fun with this ritual, reflecting back on the relationships that have developed over the year and all the good things that have happened to you. Best of all, this holiday tradition can be spread out over time—as a break from work, with a glass of wine in hand on a quiet Sunday evening, or while catching up on episodes of Chef’s Table.

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