We know that social support is so important to buffer the effects of disasters, to help pull people out of disasters, and here, we see that because of physical distancing … we’re sort of robbed of some of that social support, so that’s extra-challenging.

~  Karestan Koenen,  Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard 

 It seems mental health and substance use problems are on the rise since the pandemic started. And of course, when we don’t feel well emotionally, that affects us physically as well.

I’ve written recently about how we can strengthen our emotional health by seeking moments of joy. 

Now I’m sharing a way to strengthen others’ emotional well-being.  As a bonus, when you purposefully help to lift someone else’s spirits they benefit from your support, and you benefit from the deep joy that comes with having  made a positive difference them.

So, what is this magical thing you can do?

Write a Letter!

[Letters] help provide social support, even if you can’t be there with your friend or family member, holding their hand and being by their side.

Amanda Spray, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University

Letters help because they: 

  • Are tangible and so help reduce that “too much Zoom” syndrome so many of us feel. 
  • Help reduce  feelings of loneliness and depression that isolation can lead to.
  • Communicate to the recipient that there’s someone they can trust and who cares.
  • Allow us to feel connected and supported as we imagine the letter-writer reflecting and deciding what to write to a us.

Letters lift people’s spirits by reminding them that we’re here for them, and that we care. A letter is meaningful in part because of the effort it represents. You’re giving thought and time to choosing nice stationary and composing a personal message especially for that person.

A letter is something that the recipient can keep and read again later, as I’ve done with the cards I received while  undergoing cancer treatment a few years ago. It was a time when I often felt cut off from the life I had known, while dealing with a host of emotional and physical struggles. When I re-read those cards, they always bring up feelings of gratitude and of being loved and cared about. 

Some Ideas to Help You Get Started

  • You can use any paper you have on hand, but if you can, get some special note paper or an appealing card. It helps communicate your caring message to the person receiving it.
  • Take a some time to think of the person you’re writing to and your wish to make them feel supported. What do you want to ask about? What would they be most interested in hearing about from you?
  • Share some news from your own life, and ask about what’s happening with them, just as you would if you were talking.
  •  Let them know how grateful you are that they’re  part or your life, or get specific and let them know how  how they’ve  made a difference for you. i
  • Show appreciation for who they are – let them know what you enjoy and admire about them. 
  • Express a hope for the future – getting together once that’s possible, or visiting favorite places together.

Have you sent or received any cards or letters during the pandemic? If so, what was that like for you?

Helping You Find Joy

Finding joy in this time of sharp divides doesn’t have to be a DIY task. Let me make it easy and fun for you! I’ve planned a great, online mini-retreat for you this month. 
This pay-what-you-wish event includes guided visualizations, open-hearted conversation, writing to connect with our deepest, most true thoughts and emotions, and distant Reiki. All this plus some great bonus offers!! Don’t wait – you know how time flies!

Learn more and sign up here.

Credit

Photo by Iva Lopes on Unsplash

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