Have you heard of “open when” letters? Usually, a person writes “open when” letters to a close friend, family member, or significant other. They may be given to the recipient in bulk, with each letter in an individual envelope marked with instructions on when it is appropriate to open it.
Jump ahead to these sections:
For example, you may write a series of “open when” letters to a partner as a romantic gesture. You may send a package of “open when” letters to your young adult child who moves away from home. Some people who know they are facing a terminal illness write a series of letters to their loved ones, complete with instructions to open the notes on significant days.
While some of the letters may be labeled “open when you are hangry,” or “open when your boss is driving you crazy,” this article gives instructions on how to write an “open when you need a hug” letter.
Tips for Writing an ‘Open When You Need a Hug’ Letter
When would someone need a hug? A person may need a hug when feeling lonely, overwhelmed, scared, sad, or disappointed. In general, a person needs a hug after experiencing a rotten day. Hugs are the universal medicine. They can’t solve all the world’s problems but they can let another person know that you care.
Here are tips for encouraging someone who needs it.
1. Tell the letter recipient that you understand
More than likely, you’ve suffered through bad times in the past. You understand what it feels like to need a warm smile, reassuring pat on the back, or a gentle hug. You may even tell the recipient of your letter when you experienced your darkest hours and what you did to get through it.
Show empathy and understanding to your friend or significant other who needs extra support. After all, isn’t that the point of having close relationships?
2. Build up your friend, family member, or partner’s confidence
You may be able to guess the reason why your letter recipients may need a hug. It could be because they have lost confidence because of a demanding boss or parent. It could be because they have suffered several setbacks.
If you feel your friend needs a hug because she lacks confidence, make a list of all your friend’s great qualities. Make sure the list is accurate! A disingenuous letter may do more harm than good.
3. Remind your letter recipients that you are there for them
If you think your partner or friend is feeling lonely or overwhelmed, remind your loved one that you are only a phone call away. Some people think it is a sign of weakness to admit that they need help. Assure your letter recipient that you want to hear from them during the good and the bad times.
4. Give resources to your friend, family member, or partner
If you are concerned that your letter recipient may need more than a virtual hug, phone call, or visit, include those resources in your letter. For example, you may include the name and contact information for a counselor or treatment program.
You may have been tempted to provide your friend with these resources in the past but didn’t because you were too afraid of your friend’s response. It may be easier for you to give your friend the information through a letter than to have a face-to-face conversation.
5. Provide spiritual resources if your friend shares a similar faith
If you know that your friend will be receptive, you may include a faith discussion in your letter. Include verses or prayers that may address a particular problem. Your friend may feel better after being reminded of the “bigger picture.”
6. Consider giving relaxation exercises to your friend
Perhaps your friend is overwhelmed with a stressful job, challenging classes, or hard-to-manage relationships. Share relaxation techniques that have assisted you when you have been overwhelmed in the past. You might suggest specific yoga poses or breathing exercises that might help your friend with anxious thoughts.
7. Make your friend laugh
Maybe all your friend needs to feel better is a belly laugh. You probably know what your friend finds amusing. Share your best joke or funny story with your letter recipient who needs a hug.
‘Open When You Need a Hug’ Letter Examples
An “open when” letter allows you to take care of someone from far away but can also be fun for someone who lives nearby. You can place one of these letters in your first grader’s locker or your spouse’s computer bag.
Here are some examples of messages you may want to include in your letter.
I wish I were there to give you a real hug, but for now, you need to close your eyes and imagine that my arms are wrapped around you. Remember, being away from each other for three months is not the end of the world. Couples have done it before us and we will survive.
I wish I were there for you, but it was not meant to be. Remember, even though I can’t be there to support you during whatever troubles you are going through, many people love you. Call your dad if you are overwhelmed with school or financial problems. Call Aunt Jody if you are having relationship problems. More than anything, remember that you are loved.
I know you’re having a hard time, and if you think you are ready for help, please know that I am here to support you with that process. The first step is admitting that you need assistance. Once you have done that, call this hotline. The people who answer the phone know what you are going through because they have faced similar problems in their lives.
You are smart, talented, and tough. You will beat this, and it will leave you stronger.
Do you remember when I walked through the dining room at work right after someone mopped the floor? And then wiped out the tray of five gigantic butterscotch sundaes? Do you remember seeing me lying on the floor covered with sticky syrup and gooey ice cream? Yeah, I thought you would remember that. You’re welcome for making you feel better.
I’m sorry that you are having a rough day, sweetie. Remember what your doctor told you to do if you think you’re having a panic attack. Look around your room for five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
No matter what time it is, give me a call. I am here for you, day or night. We can get through this together.
I know that a lot of people told you that college was the best time ever, but you are going to have bad days. I remember being so homesick that I cried every time I got off the phone with my mom.
Remember, other students in your dorm are feeling the same way. They may not admit it, but they are. After you finish reading this letter, find a few friends from the dorm and treat them to ice cream using the enclosed gift card. Take a break from your homework and studying. Your mental health is more important.
I’m sorry you’re feeling down. We all have not-so-great days, but I want you to remember how wonderful you are. You are a gifted and empathetic teacher. Your students are lucky to have such a fantastic person working as their advocate. You have a hard job, but you make a difference in the lives of many people every day.
Even if your students don’t seem to be listening, they are. Even if they push you away, they want you in their lives. Keep trying. I’m proud of you!
Do you need a hug? Unfortunately, I’m not there to give you one. Instead of finding another guy to hug, take this DQ gift card and buy a hot fudge sundae. Hot fudge is almost as good as a real hug, right?
Listen to our song when you eat your treat. In fact, call me up so I can listen to it as well. I love you and miss you!
Be There to Help
Knowing that a loved one is struggling is painful, especially if you can’t be there to help. Offering a supportive letter may make you feel better but it may not be the same as face-to-face communication. Sometimes a letter’s tone can be misinterpreted and the recipient may read and reread a letter to look for hidden meanings. For that reason, make sure you choose your words carefully.
As you write your letter, think about the people who have offered support to you during difficult times. What did they do and say that made you turn a corner? Be that person for someone else.