I’ll admit it. I love to text. It’s quick and it’s easy. And, why struggle to find the right (auto-corrected) words when I have a variety of emojis right at my fingertips?
The advent of email, text messaging, and social media have undoubtedly changed our communication style, providing a convenient and fast way for us to keep in touch with others. But these innovations, as helpful as they are, have also left us missing something – the beauty and joy of writing and receiving the written word in the form of a letter.
Letter writing is one of the oldest forms of communication and is an innately personal and human experience that technology just cannot replicate. Putting pen to paper allows us to not only express our thoughts and emotions, but provides a tangible artifact for generations to hold, feel, and read. And, in the midst of pandemic lockdowns and cancelled social gatherings, hand-written letters can provide something that Zoom meetings do not – a deeply, personal one-to-one human connection that we sorely miss and need.
Benefits of Letter Writing
Physical and Psychological Wellness
Let’s be honest. We could all stand to lessen the stress in our lives. Like exercise, meditation, or coloring, writing can also be a very calming activity. It gives us the opportunity to slow down and collect our thoughts. Furthermore, writing is good exercise for the brain and promotes mindfulness. We can embrace our right-brain artistic and creativity skills and have a means of self-expression.
Writing or receiving a letter can also do a lot to boost our mental state. Studies have shown that despite having digital and virtual communication channels available, people often still feel lonely, depressed or isolated. Letters create a different connective experience between people that simply makes them happy and boosts morale. As opposed to a Facebook “friend” or a pithy tweet, letters have greater intrinsic value. And, doesn’t it just feel so nice to receive something in the mail other than a bill!
A letter is an historical record that provides a snapshot of the times. It also gives us insight into the author and their humanity. For example, both former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were known to be prolific letter writers, chronicling everything from their relationships with their spouses to world events. And, on a more personal level, a special letter is part of your own history. You can hold it, share it, re-read it over and over again, and have it as a cherished keepsake.
Creating Meaningful Relationships
We have gotten so used to communicating with our peers and friends through apps, emails and texts, that when we send or receive an actual hand-written note, it really stands out and has meaning. When you get a carefully crafted letter on unique stationary, someone has taken the time to express their gratitude or to tell you how special you are. Moreover, the letter writing effort in and of itself, regardless of the words, expresses a strong message to the reader – that you cared enough to take the time. (In contrast, think of all of the emails (some read, some unread) that you get and delete in just one day!) Letters become a lasting, tactile way to create a connection and a memory, and simply brings joy to the recipient.
So what are you waiting for? Try that new off-beat, scented stationary and take some time to decompress and reflect. Jot down on paper words that express yourself, tell someone you care, or simply to share your story. And, reclaim the art of letter writing for yourself and those you cherish.