Create an emotional first aid kit
We all know that we should have a first aid kit for emergencies – at home, at our work-place, in the car, on the boat or plane etc. We all are used to the idea that if something happens to our body, there are “must have’s” that will be important in such a situation. When there is an injury, to the heart or breathing difficulties, or a nasty skin infection or an allergy, we know we must pay immense attention to the symptoms and see a doctor. Yes, we all do it!
Yet how many of you have a “kit” of tools that are good remedies to deal with distress, depression or strong emotions as fear, anger, hate, despair, anxiety, jealousy, etc.? Literally – do you have a list of things to do, techniques to use or ways to calm yourself down? And having these tools somewhere handy – equivalent to having them in your handbag, wallet, cabin, car, bookshelf or wardrobe? Actually, such tools would be very useful for yourself and your loved ones, for your whole family - children, adolescents and adults? When I ask clients if they have such tools, most cannot answer and few have such resources. Why is this so? I believe it is simply because we do not consider our mental well-being such an important thing, compared to having a physical first aid kit, such as having an elastoplast for a cut finger. Right?!
And here we are – spending hours, days, weeks and even years being stuck in resentment, anger, hate or depression, such thoughts and emotions affect greatly our quality of life.
What is an emotional first aid kit? Unfortunately, there is no universal formula. As every human being is absolutely unique, such an emotional first aid kit might be unique too. What you need depends on your personality and preferences. Explore, try, select and create!
Here are just some suggestions for you. When you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts, difficult feelings or battered emotions, you might use one of the following:
For example…a jar with small cards that contain the description of helpful tools – ex. anger management techniques. This jar can be in the kitchen with the label on it like “Be right back”, the cards in the jar remind you of some very useful tools to calm down your anxious mind.
You might use writing therapy. In hard moments stop and write: describe your feelings, list the reasons why you feel this way, discover solutions for the situation, turn your feelings on something constructive, etc. Doesn’t matter what you are going to use – a notebook or Ipad, after writing you will feel more connected with yourself and get more understanding of the current distress.
You might use some physical exercises: take deep breaths, go for a run, walk on the beach, do some push-ups, plank, yoga, pilates, etc. Whatever is your preference, you are going to improve the situation by moving and letting go the emotions. Research studies have shown that exercise does improve depression symptoms as effectively as prescription medication do in many instances.
You may use music, music may help you to relax more effectively in moments of distress. Some people prefer instrumental, some meditative music. Science strongly recommends classical music, especially created by Mozart. Just stop, chill out and listen to some beautiful music for 10-15 minutes.
You might practice mindfulness. Focus on the now: breath deeply, pay attention to all your feelings, your intentions, see yourself, be present. Keep your heart open …in spite of this hell!
Those who have an emotional first aid kit are wise people. They know how to help themselves in times of trial and constantly take care of their emotions. More than that, they show a high self-respect, keep their mind and body healthy, maintain an elevated profile, beautify their life and are an inspiration for many others. These are five of the most motivational reasons to create an emotional first aid kit right now!
Actually, such a kit can easily find a place in your cell phone or computer. Just create a list of favourite techniques with instructions, have a folder with relaxing music or download special apps. Here is a list of great resources you can get online for free or for a modest fee:
Remember an important thing: having an emotional first aid kit helps you to be mentally healthy. If you follow one significant condition: don’t let any of your disconsolate emotions go with you to bed. There is a very wise old saying in the Bible: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger”, Ephesians 4:26. In other words, for your own sake, sort it today, get relief and stay healthy! And remember, if you have a first aid kit for a cut finger, PLEASE, your mind, heart and soul are not less important than your body.
The Emotional First Aid Kit: A Practical Guide to Life After Bariatric Surgery, by Cynthia Alexander
Emotional First Aid Kit - Psychospiritual Model, by Leo Deux Fils M. Dela Cruz
Emotional Wound First Aid Kit: A Comprehensive Guide for Rapid Healing, by John Schurmann
The Stress First Aid Kit: Meditations for Transforming Your Mental and Emotional State| Unabridged, by Tricia Brennan and Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Guy Winch: "Emotional First Aid" | Talks At Google
Photos by: Tatiana Ceban
Author: Tatiana Ceban
Tatiana Ceban is a family counsellor and life coach following her lifelong fascination with human potential. Character development is why she became a catalyst for her client’s good changes and better quality of life. She specializes in reproductive and perinatal mental health.