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Sharp Health News

The art (and benefits) of letter writing

April 1, 2020

The art (and benefits) of letter writing
It’s hard to imagine life before the internet. Shopping happened in stores, jobs were listed in newspapers, and people communicated by — wait for it — writing letters.

Remember letters? They’re those things you find in shoeboxes from years past, or fueling story lines for rom-coms. But, sadly, hand-written letters are becoming less and less common.

It’s time to change that.

As the world finds itself facing the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a better time to bring back the art of letter writing. We’re home more, we’re interacting less and we’re missing people we love. And believe it or not, writing a letter has more benefits than testing your grammar school penmanship.

7 reasons to write a letter today

  1. It can help those you love feel less isolated.
    We’re all social distancing, but for those at risk for coronavirus complications, staying at home is a safety must. While this lowers their risk of getting the virus, it elevates their risk of experiencing loneliness and depression. Opening the mailbox to find a letter, penned by people who care, can go a long way in these challenging times.

  2. It’s a meaningful alternative to a visit.
    Not seeing friends and family is tough. While there are many creative solutions for staying connected, nothing can replace the feeling of being with people you care about. This rings especially true for those in hospitals or nursing facilities, where visiting hours have been reduced to keep patients safe. A letter is not a substitute, but it can help you stay engaged.

  3. It can help calm your COVID-19-related anxieties.
    Writing down your stressful feelings about the coronavirus can help release their intensity. Many experts recommend journaling as a way to clarify your thoughts and give yourself license to feel. Writing a letter to someone can give you an ally in the struggles of this new normal, but writing a letter to yourself can also be an effective stress-reliever.

  4. It can improve your relationships.
    From texts to tweets, communicating in the modern world means working within character counts. This is fast and efficient, but we often lose the connection we’d get from thinking through a longer letter. Letters help you learn more about a person, and more about yourself — making communication easier and more meaningful moving forward.

  5. It keeps your mind sharp.
    Like your muscles, your brain needs exercise. And as you age, it’s even more important to keep your mind challenged. Writing improves your memory and ability to communicate. As you choose words, organize your thoughts and construct sentences, your mind is active and growing stronger.

  6. It’s a unique, screen-free activity.
    While many experts are loosening their screen time recommendations in light of families being homebound, too much time in front of a TV or device can negatively affect your health. Writing letters is an activity the entire family can enjoy — and it’s 100% unplugged.

  7. It’s something you can treasure forever.
    Emails come and go, but a letter is something you can hold onto; stashing away letters you receive from friends and loved ones can serve as a snapshot from the past. Feeling the effects of this “new normal,” and the ups and downs that go with it, can be a good reminder later of what is truly important.

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