What Are the Tools in Your Emotional First-Aid Kit?

What’s an emotional first aid kit? It’s a set of practices, behaviours, and creative interventions I’ve cultivated over the years that helps me support my body, mind, heart, and soul when times are particularly tough and I need to ramp up my self-care big time.

All of the tools in my emotional first aid kit are unique (read: wicked quirky) and super, almost inexplicably effective for me.

These are some tools you can pull out when it seems like everything’s going wrong and your standard self-care routines just aren’t cutting it for you anymore. An emotional first aid kit is an ongoing practice of self-awareness and self-care, supporting you in recognizing what you need, and getting curious and creative about how you can meet your needs through life’s many ups and downs.

For the purposes of today’s exercise, I’m going to walk you through the four areas for which we want to develop tools, and invite you to identify 2-3 creative interventions for each area. This will be the foundation of your own ever-evolving emotional first aid kit.

Body: Feel, Nourish, and Soothe
When life’s tough times hit, we want to have some tools in our toolbox that we can use to help feel, nourish, and soothe our body.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean things like exercising for 20 minutes or drinking a daily green smoothie (though if that sounds like just what you need in tough times, rock on). Instead, what [b]I want you to start identifying are activities or practices you know that would help you get into your body and engage your five senses – smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing – in a way that feels appropriate and helpful for you and you alone.[/b]

For examples, one of my emotional first aid body go-to’s when my schedule’s overly full and I’m feeling overwhelmed by life and professional commitments is hopping on my bike and riding it along the Bay while blaring Florence + The Machine’s Shake it Out on repeat through my earbuds. And while I absolutely love yoga and getting on my mat regularly, when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed is the feeling of freedom that comes from riding my bike long and hard. That combined with the smell of the sea (once a Maine Islander, always a Maine Islander!) and the repeated reminder from Florence to shake my stress off does wonders for me. I don’t know what your body-based tools will be, but here’s some inquiries to help you brainstorm:

-What’s the sort of stress you’re experiencing? Do you feel trapped or too uncontained? What’s a physical activity that can support giving you more space (if feeling trapped) or containment (if you’re feeling uncontained)?
-What did your 8-year old self most love to do with her body?
-What does your body crave when you’re stressed? Touch? Childhood comfort food? Stretches? Connection with the earth? Space?
-Can you combine a few activities into one to engage several senses of your body at once? (Eg: Music and movement?)
If your minds feels frazzled, what action can you take that’s soothing? If your mind (and life) feels untidy or unruly? How can you do something to help bring order to your mind?

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