If you got any actual, physical Christmas cards in the mail over the holidays, you likely know what it’s like to open up an envelope and grin to yourself all alone like a big dumbo.
There’s something about getting snail mail that’s really joyful. And it’s as fun to send as it is to receive, I think. I love making things for my friends with the simple goal of making them smile. The act of handwriting a letter, putting extra stuff in the envelope, and sending it off makes for a fulfilling hobby and a beneficial creative practice. Some of the benefits of writing snail mail include:
It’s super meditative. The physical act of handwriting – that focused, repetitive motion of moving the pen on paper – brings you right into the present moment. It forces you to slow down and focus. Rattling or racing thoughts are eased, and you can see the bigger picture. Fresh insights usually get revealed when you handwrite.
It helps keep your brain sharp. Handwriting activates a part of the brain that’s linked to our ability to succeed in learning and retaining memory. Doing it regularly is like honing your learning “muscle.” If you’re not into Sudoku puzzles, try making this a habit instead.
It can make you a better writer. A 2009 study from the University of Washington found that students who wrote essays with a pen actually wrote more than their peers who used a keyboard; they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences.
It’s an excuse to treat yo’self. To me, stationery shopping is the best shopping. It’s like, a sensual experience. Toronto is home to so many stellar stationery shops, few of which I ever allow myself to splurge at, though I’ve honestly never made a stationery purchase I regretted. Writing snail mail is an excuse to buy:
- Good envelopes and writing paper. Your canvas! The potential!
- Seal and wax. A personalized and v. adult touch.
- Nice pens. Also v. adult purchase.
- Sweet postage stamps (check out Send More Mail for unique and vintage stamps. They also sell at Kid Icarus and Blackbird Vintage Finds)
- Add-ins. Adding in stuff like stickers, bookmarks, buttons, dried flowers and hand-drawn cartoons really kicks a letter up a notch. For inspo in this area, get thee to Insta and see what mini works of art people create.
It’s an opportunity to master a new craft. Calligraphy, lettering, doodling, and storytelling are all skills you can hone and show off with this practice.
It’s an outside-the-box way to love up your friends. That friend you went to high school/college/camp with, or met on a trip, who you wish you’d kept in touch with more? Snail mail makes a major impression. Send a letter instead of just writing a Facebook post next time you want to say happy birthday or don’t be a stranger.