4 ways letter writing and journaling can help your mental health

There’s something very special about writing a letter to someone. Not only is it a wonderful way to connect, but it can significantly improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why journaling is such a trend right now? Or how journaling and letter writing help improve your mental health? Putting words onto paper, either in your private journal or folded into an envelope and sent on its way, can be very therapeutic. And it’s a great antidote to our increasingly busy, digital lives.

Think about it. So much of our communication these days happens on a small phone screen or in snatches of hurried conversation. While text messaging and DMs are convenient ways to stay in touch, they don’t give you much room to express yourself. And the speed at which electronic messages ping to and forth doesn’t leave much time for reflection.

It’s why there’s something so special about sending a letter to someone and then eagerly awaiting a reply. This age-old way of connecting with other people is a practice in patience, anticipation and trust. It’s a slow dance between two distant players—and, despite the distance, the closeness between pen-pals can be stronger than the relationships forged with people you see every day.

“The act of writing a letter is an exercise in reflection and deep thinking. It gives you the chance to really think about what you want to communicate, and it can feel like a safe space to really express how you feel. In fact, there are tangible psychological and mental health benefits of writing a letter,” said Dr Grant Blashki, Beyond Blue Lead Clinical Adviser. 
Let’s take a look at why journaling and writing letters can be so good for you.

1. Letter writing is good for your mental health

Putting pen to paper helps untangle your thoughts and calms your mind. It reduces stress and anxiety. It helps regulate your emotions and it fosters personal growth. All these things add up to looking after your mental health.

“Like journaling, writing a letter can help you release negative feelings or thoughts. But it’s also great for sharing positive feelings and gratitude with others, which can be a powerful way to boost your mental health,” said Dr Blashki. “It’s often easier to express yourself and share private thoughts and feelings on paper than it is in conversation. When writing a letter, you give a little more of yourself.”

2. Letter writing forges meaningful connections

When you write a letter, not only do you reap all the mental health benefits described above, but you also enjoy a deeper sense of connection with the person you’re writing to. And social connections help stave off loneliness, which can be a precursor to mental health issues.

These connections work both ways, with the recipient of your letter also reaping valuable benefits. As Isobelle Carmody says so beautifully in this article on why she loves letter writing, “What’s there not to love about going to chuck out the daily dose of junk mail and finding a real letter? It’s truly delicious.”

To help forge connections like these, Australia Post is proudly partnering with Beyond Blue to distribute four million pre-paid postcards to households across Australia.

3. Letter writing can become part of wellbeing routines

According to Beyond Blue, routines and healthy habits form an important part of your mental health journey. Adding letter writing to your weekly routine could help provide a sense of structure and rhythm, so you feel more in control. Even better, a routine like letter writing helps you get your swirling thoughts out of your head and on to paper.

4. Letter writing is a form of mindfulness

Mindfulness is about focusing your awareness on the present moment, paying attention to what you’re thinking, feeling or experiencing without judgement. It’s been shown to help support your mental health—like letter writing, it reduces stress and anxiety, balances your emotions, and gives you new perspectives.

So, what does mindfulness have to do with writing a letter? While most people would associate mindfulness with yoga or breathing exercises, you can practice mindfulness anywhere, doing any activity. Writing a letter is an act of slowing down, of reflection and mental clarity. It’s about sitting with your feelings and emotions and finding ways to articulate them. It can be an incredibly mindful exercise.Got your pen and paper ready?

The thought of writing a letter to someone might feel daunting. You might not know what to say or how to start. Just remember, there are no rules. Your letter can take any shape and form. Follow your heart and let the words come out. If, at the end of it, you don’t like what you’ve written, you can always start again. That’s the beauty of letter writing.

Want to build healthy letter writing habits in your family? Get tips on how to encourage your children to write letters.

We’re delivering the goods for mental wellbeing across Australia

Together with our community partner, Beyond Blue, we’re helping to deliver mental health information to millions of households across Australia. Learn more about our partnership and how you can access mental health resources and support.