For me, the phrase “love letter” conjures up images of secret notes tucked away in memory boxes, or calligraphy written in quill long ago, on now yellowing parchement to be discovered in an attic by a great-grandchild. Did you know, however, that penning one could actually lower your cholesterol levels?
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Participants in a study published in volume 33, Issue 2 of Human Communication Research were split into two groups. One was asked to write about random topics, and the other was asked to express their affection for loved ones in writing. They did so for only twenty minutes at a time, on three occasions spread over five weeks. The results, from so little a time commitment, were astounding.
Those who used their writing time to express love and affection experienced a statistically significant decrease in cholesterol levels. By contrast, the participants who wrote about inocuous topics actually experienced a cholesterol increase over the same time period. The underlying reason for this likely has to do with the physical benefits of gratitude and love.
This leads to my challenge to you. Tomorrow, take twenty minutes out of your day to write a love letter. Break out some fancy stationary or buy a pretty card. Doodle around the edges or seal it with a kiss. Your letter can be a short thank you note, or a lengthy, passionate expression of emotion – whichever comes more naturally to you.
The only rules are that you must put pen to paper, and you must express sincere gratitude and affection. Text messages, emails, and phone calls, while beneficial, do not count for the purposes of this challenge. Shallow, generic missives do not count either. You’re better than that.
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If you are stuck, I suggest looking to the greats for some inspiration. Then, find a peaceful spot outdoors, look up at the big blue sky, and soak up a sense of peace – then, share it. If nothing is coming to you, try again later. It’s only supposed to take a few minutes, after all. We’re aiming for a kind thought, not a novel.
The next day, hand deliver your letter if possible. See how you feel. If it lights you up, or puts a new warmth in your relationship, keep doing it! Begin a ritual of Sunday evening love letter writing to kick off your week with gratitude and joy. You might end up doing your body and your relationships a lot of good!