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Conquering Stress Through Letter-Writing

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Recently, I was preparing to make a huge life change, leaving the corporate world to fulfill a long-standing dream of returning to school. A relationship of mine had recently ended, my thirtieth birthday was fast approaching, and I had accepted a new teaching job. With so much excitement, there was also a deep anxiety. Was I making the right choice? Would I succeed?

An avid reader, I picked up What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. In the book, contributors such as Maya Angelou and Vanna White wrote letters to their younger selves reflecting on the wisdom they had gained with time.

I sat down to write my own letter to my younger self, and when I was done, I felt a new certainty in my decision, a confidence that I could handle the challenges that would inevitably arise.

Here are five good reasons to write your own letter to your younger self:

1. It forces you to relax.
Life is busy, and we don’t always get the chance to reflect. Writing this letter forces you to do that, to take a break from the business of life, and quietly consider how far you’ve come.

2. It builds confidence.
No matter where you are now in your life, when you consider your younger self, you can see evidence of growth. Celebrate how much you’ve accomplished.

3. It helps you understand your children.
Just when you think your kids are from another planet, taking some time to think about yourself at their age can reassure you that they are normal. It is easy to lose touch with the way children and young people think, act, and feel, and writing the letter helps build understanding.

4. It puts things in perspective.
You may feel like you’re facing the biggest crisis of your life right now, but when you think back to other hurdles, you can see how immediacy makes challenges feel bigger and more daunting.

5. It lets you dream.
Looking back actually helps you look forward. By thinking about how you got where you are, you can enjoy the little unexpected twists and turns of life. Often this will set your mind toward the future, imagining surprises to come, and considering the dreams you have already achieved and the ones you are still reaching for.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen, a piece of paper, and a moment to yourself—you won’t regret it!

By Aimee Cirucci of Cirucci.com, a Philadelphia-area writer whose work often focuses on the humorous aspects of families, relationships, and everyday life.

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