Make Every Word Count: Why Handwritten Letters Make You Happier and Healthier
There’s much to be said about handwritten communication, and how authentic letters have more impact on the recipient. However, what about the sender? Does writing letters by hand have benefits over other forms of contact? Studies have confirmed that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Take a look at the fun insights and legitimate benefits of writing by hand, and for writing letters in particular.
Writing by hand is good for you in general. Compared to typing, writing by hand engages memory, encourages concentration, and clarifies your thoughts. It increases visual motor skills as well, making you more adept with your hands in other situations. This can lead to more authentically expressed thoughts that you’ll feel better about expressing. These advantages make up some of the key reasons why people keep regular journals or diaries in physical form, rather than typing a log on a computer.
Taking a Break From Technology
Smartphones and computers may have revolutionized how people live and how businesses function, but there are issues with overuse, desensitization, and addiction. One common problem brought on by modern technology is reduced attention span and concentration, which in turn makes high-quality communication more difficult.
When sitting down at the computer or typing a message on a phone, there are many other priorities and things to click on that could divert your attention or reduce your focus on what you’re writing. Sit down to a blank sheet of paper, however, and suddenly all of that mental clutter is out of the way, and your creative juices start flowing again.
Authenticity and Encouraging Replies
Writing by hand may have plenty of benefits for self-expression, but in that case, it might be best to just keep a journal. Why write letters meant for other people? Many people resist the thought of sending letters out of nervousness. They fear that their vulnerability will be received badly or ignored, but this is the exact kind of fear that should be faced. After all, the fear isn’t accurate, and stretching that social muscle is a very rewarding experience.
When a person receives a handwritten letter, the physical nature of the letter and the knowledge that it was painstakingly scribed by hand make it more precious. Even if the recipient doesn’t write back, they’ll probably respond in some way, whether in the form of a phone call, email, or social media message.
There’s nothing as emotionally uplifting as getting a return letter you were anxiously awaiting, so why not start that back-and-forth now? When you want to reach out to someone and definitely get a response, rely on a handwritten letter.
A Chance to Say Thank You
The most common reason to send a handwritten letter is to thank the recipient for something. Why does this matter? There is a mountain of research showing that gratitude makes the grateful person happier, as well as bringing joy to the person being thanked. Focusing on things to be thankful for keeps your mood and attitude high, which encourages better productivity throughout the day. You’ll take more risks, say what you want to say, and enjoy more of what life has to offer.
The key is to try to be more grateful, and to express gratitude toward other people. The act of writing a letter of thanks by hand is perfect for growing that sense of positivity and well-being. If it still feels awkward, just think about the other person, and how nice it will be to show them that someone appreciates what they’ve done. Not to mention, a great thank-you letter often invites people to reciprocate by doing more for you so you’ll thank them again. There’s no way to lose.
Communicating Your Truest Self
Writing something by hand for another person to read also helps to help you think up the best possible message to send. Anyone can type up a text message or email in seconds. People are used to giving and getting quick, hasty responses. By writing by hand, you’ll have more time to look over what you’re saying at the moment. The slower, more deliberate process of writing words on paper and the effort needed to edit your words leads the writer to think more carefully about what needs to be said.
When communicating online, it’s virtually effortless to look up facts on Google and make your thoughts as informative and accurate as possible. However, this can make your message a bit stiff and bland. There’s a sense of humanity in not knowing something, and saying “I wonder” or “I’m not sure” is an effective way to express your curiosity and uncertainty about a topic. Nothing is helping you or propping up your thoughts. This makes you more approachable and less intimidating.
Put simply, resist the urge to look things up online while writing a letter. Write the whole missive in one sitting, and your words will be more authentic and charming.
Healing Through Expression
It’s a common practice in anger management to write angry letters and then never send them. The point isn’t to spill those emotions onto another person but to articulate them, which can help the person use their anger and render it harmless. This same strategy can apply to any negative emotion or pain we are dealing with. It need not even be the recipient’s fault. Upset over a breakup? Write a letter to an old friend opening up about those feelings, and then send it or not. It’s your choice.
No matter what, our emotions will be channeled into some part of our lives. Bottling them up only increases the chance of them bursting free at a bad moment. If something is bothering you, write a letter. You can decide whether to send it or not, but you’ll feel better after your thoughts are down on paper.
It’s fair to say that old-fashioned handwriting is a healthy, perhaps even necessary practice, and it’s no surprise that elementary schools today still teach students to write by hand. Writing letters is that magic combination that will shine positivity into everything you do.