Sadly, it’s the last day of National Stationery Week today. However, I have an amazing guest post today from a dear friend of mine. I have often spoken about writing letters and the benefits to me, or reasons to write. However, For #SendALetterDay, Laura talks about how writing letters is a form of self-care for her. I absolutely adore this post and honestly, think it needs no introduction. All I can say is that if self-isolation is getting to you and you’re feeling particularly lonely in these trying times, read this post and hopefully be inspired to connect to people through the art of letter writing.
Find out more about the #SendALetterDay campaign by searching the hashtag on social media. However, without further ado, let’s hear from Laura and why writing letters is important to her.
Writing Letters is Self-Care
One of my greatest practices of self-care is writing letters. I have a hard time doing things for myself, and though I see the benefits in journaling, I struggle to get myself to do it regularly. Letters, however, allow me to do my favorite thing – something for others – while still getting the benefit of slowing down and processing my life.
I am currently pursuing a degree in social work, and one of the greatest lessons that I have received from my classes is “words have power.” I have always found this phrase to be true, but since hearing it, it has remained in the back of my brain, in all of my interactions. While it is possible to use harsh words to cut people down, I firmly believe that the healthier way to use our power is through positive communications. What better way to use your words than to show someone you care about them?
Letters can be anything you want, which is the most beautiful part about them
Letters can be anything you want, which is the most beautiful part about them; while I have a particular style I use in my letter-writing, there is no “right” way. I tend to open with a greeting, respond to any applicable questions, give an update on my life, and remind people why I love them. While it may seem a bit frivolous to tell someone why you love them in every letter, I personally believe that the world can benefit from genuine expressions of love. Besides, who doesn’t love a compliment every once in a while? As someone who struggles in self-love and is deeply affected by words, the signs of love from my friends’ letters have been things that have kept me going on the toughest days. I have made an affirmation wall and am planning on doing another soon; that’s how much people’s words mean to me.
An Affirmation Wall:
As you can see, my affirmation wall is a mess of different things. There are some long letters in there; there are some texts that make me smile. Even the little messages lift me, but if they don’t have the same effect on you, don’t feel like you have to put any! Like letter writing, affirmation walls (or folders or boxes – really, it is about what would help you) are whatever you make of it. Photos, for example, are not affirmations, but I put them on there because relationships are of the deepest importance to me.
If you are not like me and do not save the little things – I still have cards from birth; have I mentioned that words are powerful and important to me? – start small. Go through your texts and emails and find just a line of praise. Ask a friend what their favorite thing about you is. Write a few notecards about what you like about yourself. If you keep your mind attuned to the little things, the small positive phrases, you will likely find your mood lifted.
Writing Matters – especially in times like this:
With COVID-19 infiltrating our lives, we are simultaneously further and closer to people than ever. I have personally been self-isolating and have not seen a person that I know in over a month, so the loneliness has gotten to me in quite a few instances. Letter writing, however, allows me to remain connected with people on my own time; they do not need to be available for me to send them a quick note of appreciation.
Since I have excessive amounts of free time on my hands, I have also been trying to personalize my cards to people. Though I am not nearly as talented as most people, that has resulted in some experimentation in watercolors and lettering. Again, words are deeply meaningful and personal to me, so how I really have been expressing this is taking all the quotes I have saved on my kindle and by taking pictures of books and lettering them onto cards. Here are a few examples:
While I will admit that I picked these quotes because I highlighted them, I can think of reasons to mail all of these to specific people. Some quotes are for those who I think may benefit from reading these words, like the Gregory Boyle quote. Others are for those who have potentially helped me through tough times, like the Tara Westover or Victor Hugo quotes. Still others are traits that those I love embody, like the constant evolving as mentioned in Michelle Obama’s quotes. Picking a quote, though, can be something as simple as you liking it. I am an overthinker, but once more, there is no “perfect letter.”
If consistent writing is not your style…
I have one final piece of advice for letter writing, if consistent writing is not your style. Times of reflection are instrumental in our growth; thus, I have specific moments when I write letters, too. Though it is a large project and I have not done it every year, I try to, around my birthday, write 12 letters to people who have most influenced me in the past year. If you are a fan of the time capsule card, I encourage you to make your twelfth to yourself. It is a great way to reflect on how far you have come in a year and show gratitude in an intentional way.
I hope that this inspires you to spread a bit more joy through the art of letter writing; it really is a lovely thing! Just remember: there is no specific formula, but it is instead what you make of it.
Thank you to Laura for her beautiful post. I love her tips and advice. Writing letters is a big part of her life and her self-care routine, especially in these times of self-isolation. I hope her words inspire you to try and write a letter today. Even if you write one to yourself, write something. If you wish to use this time to connect to others, take advantage of the self-isolation period and #SendALetterDay and get involved in the campaign to brighten up everyone’s day. As Laura said, you can include your own art for them to include on their walls simply by writing motivational quotes onto paper. I love how simple yet effective this idea is. Everyone likely has the supplies required to do this right now.
So get involved with #SendALetterDay now and write that letter!