Building an emotional first aid kit

A physical first aid kit has bandages, ointments, slings, and items to protect, soothe, and heal our bodies. We can build a healthy emotional first aid kit to self-soothe, protect/prevent distress, and heal our hearts.

Without making a conscious effort to build a healthy emotional first aid kit, we may turn to unhealthy behaviors to manage our emotional distress. These unhealthy behaviors may include: emotional eating, gambling, drugs, excessive alcohol, or excessive TV, internet, computer, or reading. Gathering your emotional first aid kit will improve your ability to manage uncomfortable emotional situations and pain; these healthy choices will continue to move you towards your goal of a health and wellness life style.

1.) The best time to plan and gather items for a first aid kit is BEFORE we are uncomfortable or in distress. Take time, make a list, or gather items to place in a box to make your own ‘kit.’

2.) What to place in it?
· What can you look at that brings positive relief? Pictures of loved ones, vacations, cuttings from a magazine that are healing and inspiring.

· What smells are soothing? Candles, incense, essential oils, bath salts, air freshener, cologne, or perfumes.

· Which sounds are reassuring and supportive? Music, self-affirmations that are written down and can be repeated out loud, talking to a friend/pet, singing, or mantras.

· Touching and experiencing textiles can be helpful, such as journaling or writing letters, art, stroking a soft piece of cloth, hug a stuffed animal or pillow, or have a special object you can hold that will inspire you with hope.

· Actions we can administer include: exercising, cleaning, do something nice for yourself, do something nice for someone else, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or writing a gratitude list.

3.) Stocking and re-stocking your kit.
The emotional first aid kit will progress over time; you will take items out of your ‘kit’ and replace ‘new’ items as you feel the need. The items listed above are just to prompt your creativity. It is your first aid kit, discover what works for you, then use it!

Most importantly, take time each day to check-in to see if you need to administer some ‘first aid’ to an emotional hot spot, blister, or broken heart. The best ‘first aid’ is prevention!