- Mental Health
A Creative Way to Reduce Stress and Reach Goals
Write a Letter to Yourself!
There have been times in my life when I have felt very nervous about my future. I think this happens to all of us- we hit tough times, start new things, or are not sure if certain plans will work out. At times like these, I have always wished that I could peek into the future and see what happened- to see if I succeeded, or if I ended up happy, or if conditions improved.
While I have yet to master the art of time travel, I have found a practice that makes me feel better. These days, when I find myself worrying about the future, I simply write myself a letter- one that is to be opened around the time I am worried about.
I have been doing this sporadically for about eight years, and regularly for two. The more letters I write to myself, the more I appreciate the process. It is a kind of meditation; writing letters to one's future self. At the time of writing, it is cathartic to vent bothersome worries and think over a longer time frame. It is also nice to consider what life might be like down the road.
But here's the cool thing- receiving the letters is even better than writing them. Usually, letters to the future are opened long enough after writing that you won't remember what you wrote. This allows you to peek back into a mindset and lifestyle that you may have left years ago- one that you may have forgotten, or at least not considered for a long time.
Reading letters from the past also allows you to consider everything you have achieved in your life. More often than not, challenges that you met at the time of writing your letter have been overcome. Things have worked out, and you are now better off, wiser, and more experienced than before. This puts your current problems into perspective- it allows you to realise that things tend to work out, and that you need not worry so much.
In the end, writing letters to yourself in the future and reading letters from the past allows you to better appreciate the present. By learning that things work out, and by learning to trust your ability to overcome hardship, you can stop fretting about the future and start enjoying every moment as it happens.
How to Get Started
To start, consider what is on your mind right now. What have you been worrying about? What are you fighting for? What are your goals? And when will these subjects of great thought and worry theoretically come to pass?
Once you think these thoughts out, you can write a letter to yourself about them and schedule it to be opened at the time by which these current problems would be worked out.
A Note on Format
For this reason, I have started to write all of my letters in Google Docs. I do this because the letters will always exist in the cloud, so even if my house burns down, I will not lose them. I also prefer Google Docs because I can attach each letter to a Google Calendar event which reminds me via email to open them at the specified date of opening.
Honestly, you can choose any format you like. Just make sure you find and open your letters as intended! Of course, you can simply write a letter and let it go, but sending letters to nowhere does not have the same two-punch impact of both sending a letter to the future and a letter from the past.
So go on- give this a try! Write to yourself in three years, ten years, or nine months. Then, whenever you find yourself worrying, write another! It is nice to put your problems away in this manner. I hope this helps lighten your mental load!