Why writing letters to yourself and loved ones has hidden benefits

Why send a letter when you can send a text? Here’s why you should consider pulling out the pen and paper to write a letter to yourself, a loved one or a stranger.

Why writing letters to yourself and loved ones has hidden benefits
Benefits of letter writing include reducing stress and boosting memory
Writing letters to yourself for reflection, goal setting and wellbeing
Writing letters to loved ones for connection and memories
Writing letters for creativity to be ready by no-one

The lost art of letter writing

In a world where emails, Whatsapp and iMessage reigns supreme, the old-fashioned hobby of letter writing seems like something only our grandparents used to do. Letter writing isn’t needed for communication any more - “why would I use pen and paper when I can type, or send a letter when I can send a text?”. Instead, letter writing be used as a practice for reflection, goal setting, connection and creativity.

The benefits of letter writing

Letter writing, especially by hand, can have great therapeutic and psychological benefits. It can help in:
  1. Reducing Stress The act of writing can be a meditative process, helping to lower stress levels. It can also allow you to offload your thoughts onto paper which relieves emotional and physical stress.
  1. Boosting Memory and Cognitive Function Handwriting activates areas of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. It’s even been proven to reduce the onset of dementia.
  1. Enhancing Emotional Health Writing about personal experiences can lead to greater emotional wellbeing and resilience as you can feel more in touch with how you’re really feeling.
  1. Connecting to loved ones If you choose to write a letter to a friend or loved one, you can feel connected on a deeper level.
  1. Physical time capsules that evoke memories You’re more likely to keep a physical letter than you are a text conversation, which you can go back through over the years and reflect.
  1. You focus on a single task Even when you write a card, you have to focus more on your writing than when you send a text. Plus we’re more likely to skim read text on a screen, we read words on paper with more attention.

Writing Letters to yourself

Writing letters to yourself can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth. If you’re not into journaling on a regular basis, it’s a great way to spontaneously (or periodically) reflect on your life, feelings and goals. It allows you to converse with your inner self, set goals, reflect on your progress, and even offer yourself advice and encouragement.

How to Get Started

The only person that’s going to read this is you, so it’s a totally open page for you to express however you want to. Here’s a few ideas for you to write a letter to yourself
  1. Write to your future or past self What are you proud of? What didn’t you appreciate at the time? What memories do you have? What goals do you hope to achieve?
  1. A letter of goals and wishes Some might call this ‘manifestation letter’, but it’s simply a letter which expresses gratitude for the things you hope to experience or achieve. You can write this is future tense or past tense (as if you’ve already completed them) and in detail or a bullet list.
  1. A love letter When you’re feeling good, why not write yourself a love letter about the things you like and love about yourself. It’s a handy tool to reach to when you might not feel your best.
  1. When you’re feeling a little stressed Just get it out on paper. How are you feeling? What’s stressing you out? Once you put it all on paper, it might make the stresses feel a little less daunting.
“I found complete joy in writing letters to loved ones. They last forever and it means so much more than a text.” Lisa Joyner
“I found complete joy in writing letters to loved ones. They last forever and it means so much more than a text.” Lisa Joyner

Writing letters to loved ones

A heartfelt text message is always appreciated, but when was the last time you received a letter in the post? Probably a long time ago. And you probably still have it in your memories box. Receiving a hand written letter, long or short, shows effort, thoughtfulness, and a desire to connect on a deeper level with loved ones or friends.

Tips for Writing to Loved Ones

  1. Send in a occasion card Ease the ‘awkwardness’, why not try slotting it into a card you’re already sending, such as a birthday, Christmas or thank you card.
  1. Do it periodically or one off Space out the communications. Maybe you could write a letter to someone on their birthday every year.
  1. Express things you might not say aloud Some things can be hard or uncomfortable to say to someones face. Writing a letter allows you to write how you feel freely without any reaction from the recipient.
If You Read This Letter by Hannah Brencher is a novel about finding comfort in writing letters to strangers and leaving them across New York City.

Writing to no-one in particular

Writing to a stranger, or even to no-one in particular, can be a liberating experience. It allows you to express thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment, providing a unique form of mental release. It can also be a way to creatively express yourself - you might not fancy writing a poem or a short story, but if you frame it as a letter it can allow you to think creatively.

How to Embrace This Practice

  1. Be Anonymous Feel free to adopt a pen name or remain completely anonymous.
  1. Be creative Write stories, share dreams, or even pen a poem. Whatever you want to write
  1. A choice, not a chore You could do this regularly, like journaling, or just when you fancy it. Try to keep it a choice and not a chore to keep creativity flowing.
The act of writing letters, whether to ourselves, loved ones, or strangers, offers a multitude of benefits. It's a practice that fosters mindfulness, creativity, and genuine connection in an increasingly digital world. Sure we can all send a text in a millisecond - but spending time writing words with pen and paper is a process that can serve as a mental wellbeing aid as well as an avenue to deeper connect with loved ones.

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