Lift your spirits in 10 minutes by putting pen to paper—and make someone else’s day too.

By Kelsey Ogletree
October 14, 2020
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Carson Downing

When you can’t get together in person (and you’re burned out on video calls), try a handwritten note. A survey by the U.S. Postal Service in April showed that 1 in 6 consumers were sending more letters and cards to family and friends in hopes of feeling less isolated—and according to scientists, it works.

Letter writing, similar to journaling, has been linked to greater contentment, reduced stress and more positive thinking, says Allison G. Johnsen, behavioral health manager at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital near Chicago. Plus, writing by hand (rather than keyboard) helps to slow down our thoughts. “It takes time,” says Johnsen, and “giving ourselves this can be relaxing, both physically and mentally.” And, of course, receiving mail has mental health benefits, too, making us feel appreciated and remembered.

Try jotting a postcard to a different friend each week. Build a pen-pal relationship with a grandchild. Or send cards to nursing home residents. A thoughtful note is more than enough—or check out the ideas below, from All She Wrote stationery boutique in Chicago, for putting a little extra magic in the mailbox.

Snail Mail Style

ADD FLAIR Swap basic postage stamps for vintage ones so darling, the recipient will want to save the envelope too. Minneapolis-based Edelweiss Post has many options on Etsy.

SWAP RECIPES Instead of texting a photo or link, write your favorite recipe on an actual recipe card. Share a memory about making it on the back for a personal touch.

GET INKED Fancy writing isn’t only for wedding invitations. Enroll in an online calligraphy course (check out Laura Hooper Calligraphy) to pretty up your paper notes.