A first-aid kit for your emotions is something you should prepare for because emotional emergencies can arise as quickly as medical emergencies do. You learn here which exercises you can put in your emotional first-aid kit. You shouldn’t put any pressure on preparing that emotional first-aid kit but do it very lovingly and full of understanding for yourself.
Not everybody is reacting in the same way to the same exercises and tools. Therefore, I have listed many exercises, that you can use when you’re starting to slide into that negativity spiral. Just pick the right ones for you. Or add some that are better for you. If you have more ideas I would love to hear about them in the comments!
Some of the things you can prepare and you have to prepare, other exercises are for the moment when you are already feeling those negative feelings. I have marked them accordingly. The ones you need to prepare are marked with an asterisk. Just keep the downloadable PDF in your first-aid kit so you have the exercises within reach when you need them. You can download the list with more than 20 emotional first-aid exercises for. Just click here.
The exercises will affect different parts of yourself. So I divided them into exercises for the body, for the heart, and for the mind. You can find the ones for the mind and the heart in other articles: click here for the body and here for the mind.
Before you start putting together your emotional first-aid kit please read through all the exercises. Like this, you will have them in your head already when the emergency hits.
Ready? Let’s go!
Where: Identify the exact feeling and name it. Where does it sit in your body? Breath into that part of your body. You can also make a noise or a body movement to express that feeling. For example, a wincing sound when you are sad or making a fist when you are angry. Allow whatever comes up even when it feels weird. It might also help you to identify the exact feeling. Maybe you think you are sad but actually, you are lonely. If you release the feeling by making a sound or body movement you will relax because the feeling found an expression and is able to move out of the body. In general, scientists have shown that feelings stay in the body for only 90 seconds. They only stay longer if we cling to them and we often do that without knowing it. With this exercise you acknowledge the feeling, feel through it and then you release it.
Writing: With this exercise, you will train self-compassion. Write a love letter to yourself or if this is too hard for you, write a gratitude letter to yourself. If you have never practiced self-compassion and self-love before, this might feel really awkward. But stick with it. If you can’t write a letter to yourself imagine yourself as another person and this person is your best friend. Imagining to write those words to your best friend makes it a lot easier to find the right words. Try to be very specific why you love yourself and what you’re grateful for.
Journaling: This is a little bit like writing a diary, only you are not writing down what you experienced. Journaling is also used in therapy because it helps to work through feelings. You can just write for yourself and do stream of consciousness writing, this means that you write down whatever comes into your head. Or you use a journal with prompts that you answer. This is especially helpful when you are in crisis mode because through those questions you’re focusing on the good things. And you will always be guided back to the positive aspects of your life. If you’re just writing stream of consciousness you may concentrate more on how bad you feel. But even if you’re just writing how bad you feel this already helps with getting better. Journaling always helps. I know that from experience.
Music: Make a list of songs that make you really happy. Of course, this is a lot easier when you do it at a time when you’re happy. When you are emotionally not in a good place, you will tend to pick sad songs. But they don’t help when you’re sad because they will trigger you even more and you will bathe in your negative feelings. When you choose your songs at a time when you feel good you will have a happy song playlist. Preferably also put songs on that list and download them to your phone already that you can dance to. The movement also helps (see above).
Gratitude: List ten things you are grateful for. You can do this every night, the exercise is called “Count your blessings”. Gratitude is a change of perspective on your life and you can choose to take that new perspective. There is so much to be grateful for, even if it is small and everyday things like running water or having a driver’s license.
This article is part of a series. Read more about the specific exercises for your kit and how you can prepare it. Just click on the links below:
- blog: The first-aid kit for your emotions
- blog. How to create your emotional first-aid kit
- blog: First-aid exercises for your mind
- blog: First-aid exercises for your body
- Youtube video: How my emotional first-aid kit looks like
- Expat Partner Podcast: Why you need an emotional first-aid kit when you live abroad