The Ancient Art of Letter Writing Helps With Anxiety
I still remember the thrill of receiving an envelope with my name scrawled on it. When I moved to France from the UK at the age of 11, letters were the only way to communicate with the friends I left behind.
Lonely, in a new country, I longed for these letters. Each one was a gift, something a loved one had taken the time to create, to take to the post office and send off into the mysterious void of the postal system. Writing them gave sense to my life, it was a time when I sat down, paused, and reflected on what I was doing and what was happening. And I had my lurid stationery, sparkling glitter pens, and stickers that made the act of writing letters even more exciting.
Gradually, the letters dried up, and we moved on to Hotmail and MSN messenger as ways to communicate. It was more practical and exciting to be able to speak to each other in real-time. For a decade or so afterward, the only things that fell into my letterbox were amazon parcels and bills.
That is, until this year when I decided that it was time to take up letter writing once again.
As a full-time traveler, I am always far away from my friends, and so Skype, WhatsApp, and messenger are my main means of communication. The problem is that I hate them, that they fill me with anxiety. I have wonderful friends and family and I miss them a lot. I love receiving messages, knowing what my friends are up to or just getting a random meme in my inbox and knowing it made someone think of me. Yet I often fail to respond, or it takes me a long time, and messaging is associated with feelings of guilt and failure. A good friend even ended our friendship because I disappeared from the airwaves for too long.
For five years in a row, my New Year’s Resolution was to be faster and better at responding. I never succeeded. When I receive a message, I often decide to wait until I have time to respond, and then it gets too late, and the more time goes on the more stress is associated with the idea of responding.
Now, I have decided to try something different. Letter writing. I told one of my closest friends from uni about my intentions, and she delivered with a…