Why We Should All Be Writing Letters Right Now
Even though our calendars are full of virtual get-togethers and our loved ones are just a phone call or FaceTime away, there’s still a sort of magic in an old-fashioned letter.
“Doing something nice for someone else makes you happy, especially if you know they’ll really like it,” Deborah Smith, a positive psychologist and mindfulness expert, told Packham. “Taking the time to handwrite a letter shows you care, that you’ve made an extra effort and you’ve really considered the other person.”
Handwritten letters tend to feel more meaningful than texts and emails because we take more time to think about what to write and how to write it, Smith explained. “It’s something that the receiver is more likely to keep, remember and treasure than an email,” she added.
As month two of quarantine blurs into three, letter writing has become more than a way to check in on friends and family. It also boosts mental health.
The act of sitting down and putting pen to paper is in itself a mindful activity, which can be therapeutic and great for our wellbeing―especially now.
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While there isn’t much research into letter writing specifically, studies on journaling have found that “focused writing” improves mood and builds resilience, Today reports.
“Writing can be a potentially helpful exercise when any of us are feeling emotional because it can help to recruit activation of the executive functioning parts of the brain that help build rationality and help to give us some perspective,” explained Lily Brown, an assistant professor of psychology and director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “That can work to reduce emotional activation.”
So, writer and recipient both get something out of a handwritten letter. If that’s not an excuse to go make somebody’s day, we don’t know what is!