Get The Support You Need with This New Pen Pal Program

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The number one issue caregivers face regularly seems to be isolation. It can be difficult to find time to socialize but it can also be difficult to find someone who understands what you are really going through. At The Caregiver Space, there is a new program to help combat this kind of isolation. It’s the time-honored tradition of having a pen pal. The program is designed for those caregivers looking to correspond with one person in particular in hopes of forming a lasting relationship. 

The Pen Pal Program at The Caregiver Space will

  • Match you with another caregiver for one on one supportive email correspondence

  • Provide a safe environment for caregivers seeking a relationship

  • Offer tips to get the most out of your pen pal experience

How to Start The Pen Pal Program

To start the process of connecting with a pen pal there is an online application on The Caregiver Space website that takes less than 6 minutes to complete. Soon you will be set up with your pen pal. After the initial introduction, if pen pals don’t seem to have a lot in common or if it just doesn’t seem like a good fit, Adrian Gruber, founder of The Caregiver Space, encourages people to stick with it. 

Adrian Gruber says, 

I firmly believe we all have a lot to learn from each other and that differences make for interesting relationships.” 

She founded the Pen Pal Program because of her own experience with the isolation that comes with being a caregiver. An unexpected answer came to her when she was looking online for answers to medical questions. She found herself going back to online message boards and communicating with others with similar medical problems. Mostly it just felt like she was talking to strangers; she wasn’t finding the connection she was looking for until she noticed one woman in particular. They seemed to have common questions and concerns so it was Adrian’s idea to become pen pals. The other woman accepted her offer and, even though at first their situations seemed quite different, after getting to know one another they soon found lots of common ground. She encourages caregivers to have an open mind about the pen pal that has been chosen for them as there are so many benefits to having a lasting relationship through correspondence.

Benefits of the Pen Pal Program 

 A way for busy caregivers to connect with others - Signing up for a pen pal can help solve problems associated with having a really full and crazy schedule. Instead of relying on meeting in person or talking on the phone writing can be done anytime, independently of the other person’s crazy schedule. You can choose to write electronically or go really old school and write on paper and use the post office to deliver. Either way, it’s best to choose a time to write and make it a habit. Find a quiet time that works, whether it’s first thing in the morning or maybe at night before bed. 

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Do whatever works for you so that you can stick to it. But remember that you can always add to the letter as you go so you can capture things while they are fresh. Also, if you are feeling down or frustrated you may want to get away for a few minutes and write about it. Sometimes the simple act of writing about something can help you work through it. Sharing some of the difficulties associated with caregiving can actually turn something that feels like a negative (negative feelings from having a bad day for example) into a positive. A positive because shared experiences can help to build bonds that alleviate loneliness and isolation.

A unique, fulfilling way to be social with other caregivers - Anyone who finds themselves in the role of a caregiver has a good chance of becoming a bit isolated. When you add caregiving to an otherwise busy life full of family and/or career responsibilities you can easily wind up feeling a bit socially isolated. Besides simply not having the time to get together with friends it may become a little more difficult to relate to others who are not in the same situation. 

They may mean well but unless you are going through the same thing it may be difficult for them to find the right things to say. Not impossible of course, but to be matched up with other caregivers could really make a difference. Feeling heard and truly understood can help anyone make it through difficult times.

A unique way of problem-solving -  Another benefit of writing a letter to a pen pal can come from the process of organizing your thoughts so that someone else will understand what you are explaining. Writing a full-length letter, as opposed to writing a text or other quick form of communicating, can actually help with problem-solving. After having a pen pal for a while you might notice that through the writing process you actually come up with answers to problems you barely knew you had. This is because the act of writing occupies the left side of the brain while allowing the right side (the creative/intuitive side) to remove mental blocks, thus allowing intuitive answers to surface.

Writing can help with your mental and physical health - Health benefits of expressive writing, such as a letter to a pen pal, have been documented in studies. According to a University of Texas at Austin psychologist, writing for just 20 minutes at a time can reduce blood pressure and help strengthen the immune system. And in a 2013 study, researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand showed evidence that expressive writing can help to heal wounds. 


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The positive effect of helping others - And as you are gaining all of these benefits you can be reasonably sure that your pen pal on the other end of the process is also gaining the same kinds of benefits. As your relationship grows you may find yourself making a difference in someone’s life.

Next time you're feeling isolated consider writing to a pen pal. Get to know someone who is going through the same issues, challenges and even good days you experience. The pen pal program can provide health benefits, help with problem-solving and even a new fulfilling friendship. A stranger today could be your best friend in months to come. 

Sources:

Benefits of Expressive Writing

Health Benefits of Journalling