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Five Reasons You Need To Start Writing Letters Today

Having a pen pal and writing more can help ease anxiety, loneliness and even relieve stress.

Yet spend five minutes Googling “pen pals” and the articles and studies are either geared towards children and tweens, the elderly, or even prisoners. Many mental health charities also offer pen pal schemes to support people through particular challenges such as depression.

Most report benefits of boosted happiness, supporting braindevelopment, increased connection, feelings of acceptance, cross-cultural learning and even boosting physical health.

Factors all adults could benefit from, particularly given increasing rates of burn out, stress and loneliness.

Here are five reasons why you should get out that pen today and find yourself a pen pal.

Writing is good for your brain

Studies continue to highlight the benefits of journaling for mental health. The process of writing out the words on paper can even aid brain cognition and function. Mental health charities have shared case studies of how writing helps normalize people’s feelings and allow them to process them in different ways. And given that humans are social beings, expressing yourself to a pen pal may just enhance these benefits further.

We spend more than a day a week online

With the average person in the U.K. now spending more than one day a week online, the challenges of disconnecting and non-screen time are only growing. One study showed that 40% of adults in the U.K. look at their phones within five minutes of waking up—increasing potential for racing thoughts and anxiousness to kick in early in the day. Whilst there are many pros to what technology provides, over-use is leading to heightened stress.

Writing creates connection

Whilst we are more connected than ever digitally this continues to be reported—we’re feeling more distanced than ever.

More than 9 million people say they always or often feel lonely—and that’s just in the U.K. Recognising the weight of the issue, the U.K. even appointed its first ministerial lead for loneliness in 2018. Chronicloneliness can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, with individuals more prone to depression and an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

While handwritten letters may not fully replace sitting opposite someone for a cup of tea, there’s an element of deeper connection that is present. Some studies have shown boosts to mood and reductions in stress from expressive writing.

More joy and delight in our lives

Just thinking of the last time you received an actual letter in the post is likely to fill you with at least an inkling of delight. There’s something surprising and delighting about receiving a handwritten note.

Dr Stuart Brown, renown “play” expert, and Brene Brown show how play is critical for our wellbeing and living a full life. Play can also help relieve stress and even stimulate creativity. Who couldn’t do with more of that? Writing letters could be a way to sprinkle back some joy and delight.

Even if you’re not doing it for the benefits to your mental health, brain cognition or deep social connection, having a pen pal at its least will give you an element of play and surprise in your life.

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