On Valentine’s Day a coach greeted me with a big, warm hug when I walked into the gym. It was a purely platonic hug, but it didn’t matter. It was the first time I had been hugged like that in a long time.

I noticed my breathing changed when I was hugged. I took a breath in for just a second, let myself exhale, and just felt safe for that split moment.

When it was time to let go, I felt my body tensing back up, building back the armor piece by piece…

When you haven’t been hugged like that in a long time, you forget what it feels like. You forget the power of human touch, the power of letting yourself just “feel” for a moment.

This can be a release by allowing yourself to let go for just a moment, but it can also wake you up. It wakes you up and makes you notice what you’ve been missing, what you may not allow yourself to feel, what you may sometimes think you don’t deserve.

Because living with or having a family member who suffers from mental health issues, whether mood disorders, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, or addiction can leave that individual focused on his or her own well being, unable to recognize your needs as a family member.

Your Family Member Battling Mental Health Issues May Not Be Able to Give You What You Need

It has taken me over two months to write “The Power of a Hug.” I began, stopped, discarded, began again, threw away (again) partly because I thought it was silly, or just me, or probably because I was too afraid to admit it on paper. 

But when I shared this article in a recent meeting with KL Wells, our CEO, she told me that she starts each meeting with a hug for her clients.The reason she does this is because it could be the only hug these clients receive that day, sometimes weekly, or even monthly. 

Because KL knows they need it, as they too have family members who are so overwhelmed or absorbed by their own mental health issues, they cannot give or even recognize the family member next to them is hurting.

If you need a hug, ask for one. You are deserving.

So if you are in need of a hug, ask for one. Why? Because hugs:

  • Lower stress. 
  • Boost your oxytocin.
  • Can make you feel safe and less threatened.
  • Give our immune system a healthy boost.
  • May even lower blood pressure.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to admit if you’re hurting. Because doing so is a tremendous act of courage. And a hug is just one of the many powerful ways to help us heal.