Throughout life, there are times when we all feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Sometimes painful or difficult times in our lives can feel super lonely, even if we’re surrounded by others.
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A good way to get ahead of these feelings of despair is to write yourself or a loved one an “open when you’re lonely” letter. Imagine that you are feeling at an all-time low, and you have a heartfelt letter sealed and waiting for you from a beloved friend — what a gift!
Steps for Writing an ‘Open When You’re Lonely’ Letter
You may be writing this letter to show someone you love that you care, or to help yourself through a future rough patch. Here are some steps you can take to get started.
1. Get into a good headspace
Before sitting down to write, it’s always a good idea to do something that helps you clear your mind. It could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, or maybe it’s a little more involved like going for a run. Whatever works for you is the best option.
Once you feel ready to focus, choose a favorite spot to write. Grab some stationary and a favorite pen, your computer, and your beverage of choice. We like to type up the first draft and edit it on the computer and then hand write the letter. If you feel more creative putting hand-to-paper, bring enough scrap paper to practice on.
2. Reflect on your recipient
Think about the person you are writing this letter for, what they mean to you, and your intention for this letter. If you are writing it for a loved one, having a picture of them available can be helpful.
Here are some questions to reflect on:
- How do you want the recipient to feel after they’ve read the letter?
- Why might the recipient need this letter in the future?
- Given different scenarios, what would be most comforting to include?
- What do you love most about the recipient?
3. Get inspired
If you’re feeling stuck, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Scour the internet for some ideas, quotes, or even poems.
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Keep reading for some ideas of what to put in the letters. We've also included a couple of excerpts from sample letters to help get the creative juices flowing.
4. Start writing
Once you’re in the right headspace, have thought about your recipient, and feel inspired, it’s time to start writing. You can opt to start with an outline and then fill in the sections. You can also just dive right in without much planning. Whichever process you think will work for you is a perfect choice.
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5. Proofread and seal
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to avoid a glaring mistake in a letter to your future self. Future me would be annoyed with past me if I opened up a letter riddled with errors. Your loved one, on the other hand, likely wouldn’t even notice.
Either way, it’s always a good idea to take a final look at your letter and fix any mistakes. If you’re working on the computer, do your final edit on the computer before transcribing your written letter.
Here are some pro-tips for proofreading:
- Give yourself a break. Once you finish writing the letter, take a break. You’re more likely to spot mistakes if you’ve had some time and space between the writing and editing of your letter.
- Use the spell checker on your computer. It’s a computer! It’s better at catching spelling errors than your brain, even if you’re a genius. You can also run your letter through some free grammar apps online if you’re feeling ambitious.
- Read through the letter more than once. It usually takes a couple of read-throughs to catch each of the little mistakes we all make during the creative process.
- Read the letter out loud on the second to last read-through. It’s easy to miss small mistakes when you’re reading in your head. Our brains automatically correct things like missing words and spelling errors while we’re reading. Spoken out loud, you’re much more likely to fumble the words and pick-up on your error. Once you’ve fixed those errors, give the letter a final skim.
Once you’ve completed editing your letter, it’s time to seal it up. You can be cute and seal it with a kiss using lipstick. You could draw a picture on the seal or apply a fun or personal stamp. If you are more the no-fuss type, seal up the letter, write the person’s name, and call it mission accomplished.
Ideas for Items to Put in an ‘Open When You’re Lonely’ Letter
Now that you’ve read through the step-by-step guide of drafting the letter, here are some items you may want to include as you write.
1. Genuine compliments
When we feel lonely, we can get really down and out about ourselves. Use this opportunity to remind your loved one what makes them so special. Be authentic and specific. If you are writing the letter for future you, talk about things that you’re proud of yourself for. Self-love is a beautiful thing.
2. Ideas for self-care
Remind yourself or your loved one about activities that can offer relaxation or lift spirits.
Everyone is different, but here are some ideas:
- Practice yoga
- Take a warm bath
- Eat some comfort food
- Go for a walk
- Watch a funny TV show
- Do something that makes you feel accomplished
- Call a friend or family member
- Shoot some hoops
- Take some deep breaths
- Go to bed early
3. A gift card
If you’re writing the letter to yourself, buy a gift card to your favorite restaurant or store and place it in the letter. Some comfort food or a shopping excursion might be just what you need to feel a little less lonely. If the letter is for a loved one, include a gift card you know they’ll love. It will be such a nice surprise!
Research shows that aromatherapy can reduce stress and relieve anxiety and depression. You can add aromatherapy to your letter using dried plants like lavender or eucalyptus. You can also dab or spray oil extracts of these and other plants directly on the letter or into the envelope.
Close your eyes and imagine a soothing smell washing over you as you open the letter in a desperate moment. If, as you were imagining, you automatically took a deep breath, the aromatherapy has already started working! Relaxation and relief are on their way.
5. A list of caring friends and family
Remind yourself or your loved one that even if they feel alone right now, there are so many people that care. Make a list of trustworthy friends and family who you know will always pick up the phone if you or your loved one is in need.
Include phone numbers, email addresses, and any other ways it would make sense to contact them during a rough patch.
If the letter is for a friend, list every possible way they can contact you. Let them know you’re there day or night if they need you!
‘Open When You’re Feeling Lonely’ Letter Examples
Here are some sample excerpts that will hopefully inspire you! The first example is a sample letter to myself, and the second is a letter to my partner if he’s ever far away or I can’t be there for him.
I know things feel really tough right now. You’re lonely, down in the dumps, and it feels like this heaviness will weigh you down forever. Remember that feelings are visitors. They come and they go. I promise things will get better, and that you will be okay.
You have so many people who love you and will be here for you at the drop of a hat. Call Brandon, call your mom, or call Erica. Tell them what’s up and what you need. They will be there.
Take several deep breaths. Go snuggle one of your girls. Find a healing yoga class on YouTube. Curl up in bed and binge-watch The Office.
You’ve opened this letter because you’re lonely. I don’t know why I’m not with you, but I know I wish I was. There’s nowhere that I would rather be than by your side.
You are so loved. You are the best father and partner I could have ever dreamed of. You are thoughtful, loving, and wise.
You don’t need to bear this burden alone. I’ve included in this envelope a list of people you can call and their phone numbers. I know they will drop anything to be there for you. I’ve also included gift cards to Fuji as well as Juniper and Ivy. Your favorite restaurants! Have a really delicious comfort meal on me, and know that I love you and wish I could be there with you.
More Letter Ideas
Love this idea and want to write more? Check out our “open when” letter toolbox and guide!