Kindness and Love Letters May Improve Mental Health
After graduating from college and moving to New York City, Hannah Brencher found herself feeling depressed and anxious. Not wanting to be around other people, Brencher felt she was "just unraveling."
As part of her self therapy, Brencher began writing love letters to strangers and would leave them all over the city. She found her loneliness and depression was put on the back burner when she wrote letters like the following one and left them for someone to find.
You and I don't know one another. We may never sit and laugh over cups of coffee. We may never dance in the same circles or yawn together by the midnight hour. None of that really matters to me. It is so small and meaningless to the things I wish you would know on a daily basis: that you are lovely. That you are worthy. That those hands of yours were made for mighty, mighty things.
You probably think I am crazy. You are probably sitting here with this letter in your hands thinking, you cannot know that . . . you don't know me . . . you don't know a stitch of me. Yes, you're right. But I know all the things I thought I never deserved. I know how very hard it once was to love myself and even find myself worth the reflection in the mirror. And so I know I am not alone in needing a boost some days, in needing to know that I matter to someone somewhere.
You matter to me. In a way I cannot explain, you matter to me. And you, you are a marvel . . . you and all the parts of you.
A girl just trying to find her way
"I found something that allowed me to take the focus off of myself," adds Brencher. Hannah and her More Love Letters campaign are part of a growing number of similar groups who are extolling the benefits of random acts of kindness, not just for the receivers, but for the givers as well.
A recent study published in the journal Emotion states that performing such acts of kindness can allow people suffering from social anxiety to feel more positive about themselves and their lives. Acts as small as thanking a bus driver or giving someone a small gift can have a much larger impact.
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