Love Letters — Good for Both Heart and Soul

Candy Hearts.

Cupid has got to be behind this synchronistic web discovery. Just hours before St. Valentine’s Day I found a link to a PsyBlog post explaining that Affectionate Writing Can Reduce Cholesterol.

Previous posts here have explained how writing about trauma is good for your health, and also that writing about happy stuff is good for you. But love letters and affectionate notes had not made the list, and I have not previously seen reduced cholesterol linked with any form of expressive writing. This is great news!

Based on the simple report on PsyBlog, this study appears to be among the hundreds of variations on the Pennebaker research model that has people write for about twenty minutes on three to five occasions:
According to new research, writing down affectionate thoughts about close friends and family can reduce your cholesterol levels. Floyd et al. (2007) randomly assigned participants to one of two groups: one experimental and one control. The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived.
(read full article)
Note that the experiment involved writing three times. I’m inclined to think that writing to more people, more often could amplify the results and have the same stress-reducing effect as keeping a Gratitude Journal. This could be worth turning into a habit or way of life!

Write now: pen a loving note to a special person in your life. For best results repeat often, at least once a week. You may get even stronger results by using pen and paper rather than sending an e-mail!
Picture: Sharon Lippincott © 2011


JoAnn Melton said... is a current book detailing one man's experiences writing a thank you note every day for 365 days. Recently featured on some televised book interviews made a a visual impression upon me. His book chronicle his results with what began as a an experiment begun in a low time of his life. Making the extra effort to hold a pen and apply it to paper imprints itself in both the sender's and reader's mind/heart/thoughts.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks for the link JoAnn. His heart should be in good shape, both physically and emotionally,and I'm guessing that there are about 365 people around the earth who are a bit happier than they might otherwise have been.

Rachel said...

I recently started a gratitude journal! I'm currently in a long distance relationship and am quickly learning the power of thoughts, more specifically, of maintaining positive thinking. I started my gratitude journal so that I could keep track of everything that I am thankful for in my relationship. I was finding that the distance was clouding how I was viewing my relationship. The journal helps me see things clearly. There is something so powerful about writing out positive things. I used to find myself writing out my rants and the hard things. But I am now learning the value of balance. My gratitude journal is really helping me.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Ah, Rachel, my husband and I will soon celebrate our (gasp!) 48th!! anniversary. This union began after three months of real-time getting acquainted and nine months of correspondence with only a couple of weeks together over Christmas and spring break. This is not something I recommend, but it can work. Keep the faith, and believe in love. That gratitude journal sounds like a great idea.