How to Write an ‘Open When You're Stressed’ Letter


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“Open When” letters are a great way to stay in touch with someone who’s far away. And one of the most common times you might want your recipient to open their letter is when they’re stressed. 

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An “Open When You’re Stressed” letter can help your friend or loved one relax when the pressure is on. Whether they could benefit more from a quick laugh or some heartfelt words of support is up to you. 

If you’re thinking about sending someone an Open When You’re Stressed letter, keep reading to pick up some helpful tips and tricks. 

Tip: If there's a loved one who passed away that you wish you could write to, you can consider other unique ways to honor them, whether it's with a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

What’s an Open When You’re Stressed Letter?

An Open When You’re Stressed letter is a note that you don’t want them to open right away. Instead, you want your recipient to open the letter when they need a boost. And specifically, you want them to open the letter when they’re stressed. 

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Who are they for? 

You can write an Open When You’re Stressed letter to someone in your life, like a family member, significant other, or a close friend. Or, you can write an Open When You’re Stressed letter to your future self to open when you’re stressed out. 

How do you send them? 

You can send just one Open When You’re Stressed letter, or you can send a whole set of them (for someone who’s starting a particularly stressful job, for example). Or, you can include an Open When You’re Stressed letter within a set of various

Open When letters. You might make a whole box of Open When letters that apply to different occasions, both happy and sad. 

Other types of Open When letters

Other types of “Open When” letters include things like, “Open When You Miss Me,” “Open When You’re Sad,” “Open When You Need Encouragement,” or, “Open When You’re Having an Amazing Day.”

An Open When You’re Stressed letter is one of the best types of Open When letters you can send because you can directly help your recipient feel a sense of support and even relief. 

How to Create an Open When You are Stressed Letter

So how do you pen the perfect Open When You’re Stressed letter? What do you say to someone who’s stressed when you can’t be there in person? 

Ultimately, what you include in your letter will be tailor-made to suit the person you’re writing to. But there are some steps you can follow to simplify the process and make sure you say what needs to be said. 

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Step 1: Spell out the rules

First, it’s important to make sure your letter recipient knows what to do with an Open When You’re Stressed letter. 

There are some hard-and-fast rules that apply to Open When letters, and they help ensure the person receiving the letter gets the most out of their letter (or letters). The rules apply even if you’re writing the letter to your future self. 

These are the rules for an Open When letter:

  • Only open when the letter really applies. 
  • Only open one letter at a time (if you give multiple letters). 
  • Don’t throw the letters away. You can read through them again after you run out of new letters!
  • Open the letters when you’re alone. 
  • Don’t peek!

If you’re sending more than one Open When letter at a time, include a separate Open When letter with “Open When You Receive These Letters” written on the envelope. Inside, write the rules (see below) for Open When letters. 

If you’re sending just one letter, you can write the rules down on the back of the envelope. 

Step 2: Think about your recipient

Next, envision your Open When letter recipient and what they’re like when they’re stressed. If you’re writing the letter to your future self, consider where your own mind tends to go when you’re facing an extremely stressful situation. 

Then, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How do you know when your recipient is truly stressed? 
  • What situations tend to stress them out the most? 
  • How do they tend to cope with stress, both in healthy and unhealthy ways? 
  • How have you comforted them when they were stressed before? 
  • What words of support have you offered in the past that have helped them cope? 
  • What activities have you done together that have helped them relax? 
  • Have you ever given them a gift that helped them cope with stress? 

You’ll use the answers to these questions in the next steps. 

Step 3: Let them know you understand. 

Use your answers to the first three questions in Step 2 to let your recipient know you commiserate and understand what they’re going through. Sometimes, the best form of stress relief is just venting and being heard, and you can provide that to some extent with your letter. 

For example, if your recipient tends to get stressed when they have a big deadline approaching, you can start out your letter with a note about how they work best under pressure. 

Think about what situations stress out your recipient, and consider how you could make your letter-reader feel heard. 

Step 4: Remind them they’re strong

Use your answer to the third question in Step 2 to remind your letter recipient that they’ve dealt with similar stressful situations in the past. 

Of course, don’t include references to how they’ve coped with stress in unhealthy ways unless it’s with a humorous tone. Instead, lean towards the positive ways they’ve dealt with stress and how it’s turned out for the best in the past. 

For example, you can lightheartedly reference a negative coping strategy by saying, “Step away from the coffee...I’m betting you’ve had enough!” Then, remind them of a better way with, “Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.” 

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Step 5: Give them a boost

Next, use your answers to the fourth, fifth, and sixth questions provided in Step 2 to boost your recipient’s confidence and help relieve some of the stress they’re under. You can include a callback to a time you helped them overcome a stressful situation, or you can repeat some calming words you’ve said to them in the past. 

If you helped your friend in the past by bringing them pizza while they crammed for a final, you can include the note, “One thing I’ve learned is that pizza helps in times like these.” And if you helped your friend beat the stress with the words, “The darkest nights make for the brightest stars,” make sure to include that quote in the letter, too. 

Step 6: Add a gift

An Open When You’re Stressed letter can be more than just a letter. Use your answer to the seventh and final question in Step 2 to consider sending a gift along with it. 

It’s typically best to keep the gifts small, especially if you’re sending multiple Open When letters at a time. A gift you include with an Open When You’re Stressed letter could be a scented candle, a bath bomb, or a gift card for delivery. 

Step 7: Keep it personal

Your Open When You’re Stressed letter should be hand-written, rather than typed. Make sure you tailor the letter to suit your recipient, adding in touches of their sense of humor to lighten their mood. 

You can even put a few photos in with your Open When You’re Stressed letter that will cheer up your letter-reader. For example, include a picture of your beloved dog doing something silly, or of your group of friends making hearts with their hands.

Consider having other friends of the recipient write some words of encouragement that you can put in the envelope, too. 

Open When You’re Stressed Letter Examples

If you need some inspiration to get started with your Open When You’re Stressed letter, you can use the examples below to beat the writer’s block. 

Open When You’re Stressed - Example 1

When life gives you deadlines, make a strong pot of coffee and get to work! (But remember, you have to sleep now and then, too.) I wish I could be there to cheer you on in person, but you’re the hardest-working and most brilliant person I know, so I’m sure you’ll be all right. Keep it up, champ. 

Open When You’re Stressed - Example 2

If you’re feeling stressed, I know it must be a super hard situation, because you’re the strongest person I know. Go easy on yourself, and rest as much as you can. You can only do as much as you can do, and some things are out of your control. You’ve got this. P.S. Here’s a little something to help out; I’ve heard tons of delivery Chinese food is the solution in times like these. 

Open When You’re Stressed - Example 3

I know you’re super stressed (I can feel the tension all the way over here!) and that’s OK. You’ll get through this like you always do, and if you need support, just know that you have all of mine. Here’s some lavender pillow spray to help you get some sleep tonight. No all-nighters!

Make Someone’s Day with an Open When Letter 

The simple act of opening an Open When You’re Stressed letter is often enough to make someone’s day. It shows you’re recipient that you thought of them enough to consider cheering them up both in the future and from a distance. It demonstrates how much you truly care about their wellbeing and happiness. 

And if you choose to write an Open When You’re Stress letter to your future self, it has the added benefit of acting as a miniature time capsule. In the future, when you’re stressed to the brim, you’ll know that you once had the foresight to give your future self a boost. You’ll be able to remember a time when you weren’t so stressed, and hopefully see the light at the other side of the tunnel. 

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