For our beauty co-ordinator Annie Whitfield, sending letters home helped soothe her university homesickness
More often than not, people look back on their time at uni as the best in their lives. I certainly do. But alongside the excitement of grubby student halls and crazy nights out, there was the inevitable bout of homesickness. It was my roommate (she was studying psychology) who urged me to use letter writing as the go-to cure. She assured me it had helped her, so as a nod to trying new things, I gave it a go.
The first time I sat down to write a letter in my uni room, I wondered why on Earth I was doing it and what I would say. But as I started, those worries drifted away. I began to calm down and almost switched off from everything else. I was telling my grandparents things I would usually forget to mention during a phone or Skype call. I felt organised – as if I’d vented feelings I hadn’t even realised were in my mind.
Although writing the letter made me feel good, the real benefit came two weeks later when I received the response. This wasn’t just a quick text message – there was real thought behind it, and the words in the letter felt SO sincere. Granted, my grandmother was only telling me about how well the flowers were growing in the garden and rejoicing that Grandad had finally beaten Rachel Riley on Countdown, but I was still left with a warm fuzzy feeling, the most comforting thing you can ask for when you’re missing home.
Before long, writing a letter became a therapeutic escape for me. I would make time to write every two days, sometimes more often if I was homesick or a bit stressed. It had so many benefits. No matter what the subject, it made me feel better getting things down on paper.
It’s well known that committing your feelings to paper is an effective way to minimise stress. Mind coach and TV presenter Anna Williamson explains, ‘Some find writing a really cathartic way to offload their thoughts and feelings. Getting the thoughts out and on to paper has been proved to help reduce stress levels and anxiety, and can also help you to gain clarity and perspective on a situation.’
I’m not trying to convince you to become a fully-fledged Jane Austen. But I think you’d be surprised at how much calmer you can feel by taking 10 minutes out of your day to jot down your thoughts or write a letter to someone close to you.
Mindset coach Anna Williamson on the benefits of putting pen to paper
1 Use writing to a loved one as a therapeutic tool. It can help you gain clarity and perspective.
2 Venting your thoughts on paper can help reduce stress levels and calm anxieties and worries.
3 16–24-year-olds are the loneliest age group*. In a generation surrounded by social media, investing your time in writing can help you feel more connected to the people around you.