I am Mansi Shah, a psychologist and a career practitioner. I am also a founder of Bloom mantra a mental health centre where we believe everybody Blooms and everyone has their own mantra to bloom.
So, to begin with, I want to talk about a regular and a casual life scene that most of us have surely seen. Let’s say your friend or your child, let ‘s name him Ravi- he is a football player and while playing, he falls down and breaks his leg and injures himself. It’s bleeding and it's hurting like anything. As soon as the team and coach sees this, they rush to get the first aid box because they all are concerned. One of them will clean the wound, ask Ravi to calm down for a while, apply some savlon or Dettol and then will let it heal.
And after that every passing day, Ravi’s coach and his team members will ask him "How are you doing?", " How is the pain?" , "Is it still paining?" and more such questions, right?
Now, that's a physical health that we are talking about which we all are very familiar with. And know how to deal and cope with it.
But now one day Ravi has a fight with his best friend and he is really upset and to make the matter worse he came to know that he didn’t get selected in the football team.
Now what? Is he going to take care of his mental health the way he took care of his physical health? Will his loved ones, his friends and teachers know what is happening to him. And even if you know that your friend Ravi is not feeling well, do we know how we can help? Or does Ravi know what he can do, to calm himself to feel good about himself?
The Answer is A BIG NO
When it comes to our mental health, we really don’t know what to do or what we can do for our loved ones.
Let's start with understanding what is an emotional first aid?
Emotional first aid is like our normal first aid, the difference is that we use our first aid kit for our physical injuries whereas emotional first aid we use for our mental or emotional injuries.
Before we move on to discussing the tools of the emotional first aid. Firstly, let us learn how we can identify what are the emotional injuries.
Are they visible? Not exactly visible but it can always be felt and sometimes it can be observed in one's behavior.
Now let's go back to Ravi who had injured himself while playing football. What if Ravi would have left with no friends around or his coach might have not asked him about his health, how would he feel? Perhaps felt alone or unattended.
If the coach would have scolded him in front of all his friends , he might have felt humiliated and would have labeled himself as not a worthy player.
The feeling of guilt of not being a good player could have create an impact on his mind.
What at the first place, he would have not got selected for his team, he might have felt rejected and who likes rejection?
The feelings that I just described here are called the emotional injuries. So now you all must be thinking how can such trivial matters like not getting selected in the team or getting scoldings can create such distress. When it comes to mental health, a situation that can be trivial for one might be impactful for another. So to identify one's emotional injuries it is very important to observe one's behavior and to keep a channel of communication open so that you can understand what your loved one is going through.
Behavioural traits that you can keep a check on are -Change in sleep pattern or food intake -Increase in irritability
-Decrease in socializing
-Reduced attention span
-Prefers to stay alone
-Are some of the traits that we can keep an eye on
So now if these injuries are not paid attention or are kept in the corner to let it heal on its own, it can sometimes only get bigger.
So, what are some interesting strategies to help yourself and your loved ones and what should be the part of our emotional first aid.
Perhaps a coping mechanism like a thermometer that can help you in keeping a track of your emotions and feelings.
For example, you can create a mood chart and use it when you are not feeling well or are unhappy and keep a track of your feeling and what is the thought behind your feelings. Perhaps that can help in rationalizing your thoughts and might make you feel better.
Second -something like Vitamins that can make you feel stronger and motivated. It could be a playlist of your fav songs or a small sketchbook to doodle.
Third - how about a mirror that can remind you of your strength. Your mental health mirror could be a list of your attributes or affirmations to remind yourself how important you are.
Fourth an ice pack to calm you down, ice pack for mental health could be a breathing exercise or a soothing calm music. Or a game of Jenga which allows you to concentrate and calm you down.
Fifth, how can we forget a mask and a glove. The way we don't allow a virus to enter our body same way learning how to create a healthy boundary and not allowing toxic feeling to enter our mental health is very important and that we done by learning how to be assertive, learning how to say no and deciding whom to allow within your boundary and whom to not.
Sixth, a band-aid. Just like how band-aid wraps the injured part and helps to heal.. the same way sometimes it is important to pause and allow yourself to heal.
And lastly our dear friend our mobile, but not for social media or to play a game but to call, communicate with our loved ones. Try Talking -it is the best medicine for your emotional injuries. Over here you can also try visiting a therapist, they will be someone who is going to be non-judgemental, great at listening and will help you in untangling your tangled thoughts.
Now these are some of the few tools that I keep in my emotional first aid kit but you can add more or have your own coping tools to help you.It would be great if you can share your coping strategies in the comment box and tell your experience when it comes to mental health or your loved ones.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask by dropping them in the comment box below.