Self-care can be defined in many ways. Pre-pandemic, I used to think of it mainly as time away from people and responsibility—an extra-long shower, a movie night alone at the theater, heck, even a subway commute with a really good podcast. But, as COVID-19 took hold and we became limited to our homes and “essential” to-do’s only (not to mention facing the loss of any support be it childcare or family and friendships), I found myself struggling to carve out time for myself.
My bathroom was now my pseudo-conference room (yay, apartment life), my movie preferences were subject to endless debate (my spouse and I were both home on the couch together every. single. night.) and my subway escape was replaced with a car commute that included my toddler (just ask me how many times I’ve listened to the Moana soundtrack this year).
On top of it all, I was feeling increasingly disconnected from the people in my life—past and present—that had always helped me feel grounded. When the pandemic hit, even the long-distance relationships I had meticulously maintained over the years seemed to dissipate. It made sense, of course. We were all in various states of grief as we processed unprecedented life changes. But as a result, a Zoom call felt intrusive; an email—and its expectation of an immediate response—felt like work.
That’s where letter writing comes in. As a recent subscriber to writer and editor Gina Hamadey’s newsletter—and subsequent reader of her brand-new book I Want to Thank You, which chronicles her year spent writing 365 thank you notes to strangers, neighbors, family members and friends—I was both interested and optimistic about her idea that putting pen to paper was a low-key way to feel more joyful and connected to the people in your world.