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 heart.
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!
Something new: Try something new. Just something, whatever it is. What were you always curious about? It can be a museum, a new food, a recipe, a smell, some information about a historical figure or a completely new form of music. Our brain loves everything new and rewards us with sending out feel-good hormones.
Finding thought patterns: There are some thought patterns, which are not good because they leave us stuck in the negative feelings. Examples for negative thought patterns are catastrophic thinking, black-and-white thinking, making assumptions, generalizing, unrealistic expectations, diminishing the good, believing that feelings affect, personalizing (they’re out to get me). Maybe you will find some more. Try to find out if you fell prey to such thought patterns. And if yes, then thinking about it and being aware of it is already the biggest step to avoid such thought patterns in the future.
Limiting beliefs: We all have limiting beliefs that we have achieved through education and experiences in our life. Some helped us at the moment we learned them but are not useful later or sometimes even bad for us. You should find those limiting beliefs that hold you back and change them. The best way is to change limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. Examples for limiting beliefs are:
- not untrustworthy
- not lovable
- better than others
- a victim
- only here to help others
- the perfectionist
Examples of empowering beliefs are:
- worth loving
- part of this beautiful world
- a creator
- embracing the challenges
It is hard to change limiting beliefs immediately but sometimes it already helps to be aware that those limiting beliefs exist. It also helps to know that only because you think something, it doesn’t need to be true. A good coach or therapist can be a great help with changing the limiting beliefs because it is hard on your own.
Values: If you’re aware of your values you will be stronger and more confident. It helps to find one value that is important in your life and to write about it for 10 minutes. That makes you stronger and more confident – by the way, this is scientifically proven. Just write why this value is important in your life and how you integrate it. The stream of consciousness writing is the best thing here.
Obstacles you overcame: Make a list of all the difficult situations in your life that you emotionally survived. How did you do that? And doesn’t it feel good that you overcame all those obstacles in your life? Which of your strengths helped you in overcoming those obstacles? Can you see that the situation right now is also something you can survive?
Flow*: Find something to do that you are totally absorbed by. When you are in the flow you don’t have to think anymore. You just can’t. It really helps with those negativity spirals. But as it is hard to think of things you love to do when you are sad already, make the list now and keep it in your emotional first-aid kit.
Feelings and thoughts: Thoughts cause feelings. With some experience, you can learn which thoughts cause which feelings. Then you can change the thought and with that, you change the feeling. It is as easy and as hard as that. Of course, this is hard when you had already gotten sucked into the negativity spiral. So practice this before. It will help you to be aware of your thoughts and examine them when the negativity hits. When you are in control of your thoughts you are also in control of your feelings.
Taking action: You can also change your feelings by taking action. If you want to try this approach then do the exact opposite of what you want to do most at that moment. Do you want to hide in your house? Then go out. Do you want to call your best friend at home even though it’s 2 AM where she lives? Call somebody who is in the same time zone as you are or write a letter to her.
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 heart
- 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