Hugging is healthy, we told you last week. Did you know writing love letters and cards also benefits your body and mind?  The health effects are significant.

‘Aunt Nathalie, I love you.’

And: ‘This movie is for you because you are sóóóóóóóóóó sweet.’

When something unpleasant happens, the self-made cards and videos with declarations of love of my now 6-year-old niece always make my day. And that is not surprising, say scientists who conducted research into the effects of love on body and mind.

Both showing and receiving gratitude, love and appreciation improves your mental and emotional wellbeing. And that does not concern romantic love alone. Scientists have shown that gratitude and kindness reduce fear, improve relationships and diminish the number of stress hormones in your body. And that is not all. According to this report of neuroscientists Tobias Esch and George Stefano loving activities activate areas in your brain that regulate your emotions, attention, motivation and memory. The nervous system in your brains has protective effects on your entire body, including the brains themselves. Love and joy boost health, welfare, and (re)productivity! ‘Letter Love’ can even lower your cholesterol!

The opposite is also true: the absence of positive social interaction or ties is associated with physical and mental problemsIf your so called Positivity Ratio (the ratio between the positive and negative emotions that you experience) is too low, depression symptoms easily emerge. Your body and mind are pre-programmed to remember negative experiences more and to let them impact your more. Therefore, always make sure that you receive at least three times as many positive as negative stimuli. Then your ratio will be positive. Wondering what your positivity ratio is? Take the test.

Do you find it difficult to put your feelings into words? Then do something mindfulness exercises. Also help other exercises in positive psychology. Try reading your card or letter out loud:

Still in doubt whether to hand over your Valentine a handwritten letter or card today? Don’t! That way you might deprive yourself and someone you love of a long, happy and healthy life (together). Remember, it doesn’t need to be a long epistle, a short loving message or a thank you note is enough.

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