We regularly ask you (via our fortnightly newsletter) to recommend stuff that you find helpful to have in your First Aid Kits for Feelings (books, movies, scents, playlists, activities, spaces, anything really). This page contains all of your past recommendations.
Now you might have a first aid kit at home, packed with plasters, paracetamol, bandages and so on. A First Aid Kit for Feelings works in exactly the same way. However, it’s packed with tools, tips and things that help you respond to emotions and symptoms.
The role of physical sensations and emotions is often dismissed, and we go to great lengths to suppress, ignore, numb, or disconnect to these feelings. But all feelings are information and there will come a time when ignoring them will start to negatively impact our work, relationships, and health.
We use something that allows people to recognise feelings — even when they are uncomfortable — and deal with them well. We call it ‘First Aid for Feelings’.
Are you familiar with the mnemonic ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) for medical first aid? We adapted this to work for feelings so it’s ABC for Feelings, which stands for Awareness – Breathing & Body – Choice.
You can discover more about this technique and start taking advantage of it by signing up to the First Aid for Feelings course on Insight Timer. You can listen to Day one for free and without even creating an Insight Timer account, allowing you to see if this is something that could be helpful for you.
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In the meantime, you can discover some of the recommendations from previous weeks below. Click the ‘Read the newsletter’ button after each to discover more from that week’s newsletter:
10/09/2021 – Lego can help you get off the ’roundabout of unhelpful thoughts’
Doing something with your hands can help you get off the ’roundabout of unhelpful thoughts’ and shift your focus to something where you can see immediate results. Lego is great for this. It’s fun and creative, which helps connect you to your top scoop. This is the part of your brain that’s better at troubleshooting and thinking strategically. Thank you Harry for recommending Lego!
18/08/2021 – Apps can be helpful or building and supporting habits
Apps can be helpful and there are various apps available for building and supporting habits. Thor has been recommending this one for years. It’s not strictly a habit supporting app, it’s a messaging app where you can send yourself messages, like habit prompts, into the future. If you have an Android phone, look for DearFutureSelf and if you’ve got an iPhone, look for HiFutureSelf.
04/08/2021 – Swings can be great when you want to take a break
Swings are great for connecting with your inner child and just having a play, taking a ‘break’ from whatever is going on in your life. The rocking movement can soothe and ease tender feelings. There’s just something about the joy of having your feet off the ground. Thank you to Catherine for this recommendation.
20/07/2021 – Dark chocolate can help ease pain
It’s true, dark chocolate can help ease pain (including menstrual pain), lower blood pressure and improve brain function. The key is that it needs to be at least 75% dark cocoa and voila… it’s medicinal! Thank you to Lorraine for this recommendation.
29/06/2021 – Movies can be really helpful when we need to connect with ourselves
Voted one of the top – Laugh Out Loud – movies ever, this is John’s go-to film when he needs to connect with the humorous and at times hilarious aspect of ‘self-work’. Thank you John for this recommendation.
16/06/2021 – Send someone a letter, they’re a joy to receive!
Write a letter to your friend and send it by post. Whether it’s just a weather update or about what you appreciate about them and your friendship, letters have a different quality from other forms of communication. It’s a joy and surprise to receive a personal letter in the post. Thank you Harry for this recommendation.
04/06/2021 – Turmeric tea can help relieve inflammation & relieve pain
Curcumin, which is an ingredient in turmeric, has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Thank you Clare for recommending turmeric tea to help ease pain. You can find a recipe for turmeric tea on the BBC Good Food website.
18/05/2021 – Epsom bath salts for pain relief
Epsom bath salts can help ease pain when added to your bath water or used for in a foot bath. They are particularly helpful for muscular-skeletal pain, that is pain in your muscles and joints. Thank you to Joe for this recommendation.
04/05/2021 – Laughter often is the best medicine
Laughing is one of our most primary and enjoyable feelings and experiences. I’ve been recommending laughter supplements for years. This one is a classic. It’s 1 minute and 44 seconds perfectly sized laughter supplement. Thank you to Joe who recommended it to me all those years ago. Watch the video here and laugh along.
20/04/2021 – Pets can really help reduce anxiety and stress
It was Pet Day on Sunday, April 11th. There’s lots of research about the stress reducing benefits of pets so Denny and Thor did a video about how Denny helps them with stress for Facebook and Instagram (click links to watch).
Selica sent these brilliant photos of some of the pets that help her and hubby Richard, along with this thoughtful quote. Thank you Selica.
06/04/2021 – Food can be powerful First Aid for Feelings
Joanne recommended Chicken Soup as proper, restorative, First Aid for when she’s feeling lethargic and demotivated. She always keeps a portion in the freezer so it’s ready and available when she needs it. For a vegan version try tofu. Do you know what your First Aid Food is?
In addition to the famous book Chicken Soup for the soul, there’s also research by Troisi and Gabriel that proves that comfort foods like chicken soup support the need to belong and comforts.
23/03/2020 – Poetry can be profoundly helpful
Poetry can be profoundly helpful as it distills experiences into a few words. This poem is skillfully crafted to evoke how it feels when times are tough with an invitation to face the kind air to come. As here in the UK we mark and honour the anniversary of starting lockdown this poem is poignant. To find just the right poem remedy for how you’re feeling, check out The Poetry Pharmacy.
Thank you H for recommending this poem.
09/03/2020 – In sight – in mind
What are you looking at and is it helpful? We recommend turning the phrase ‘Out of sight – out of mind’ inside out so it becomes ‘In sight – in mind’.
The prompts and inspiration we get from what’s in our line of sight help us stay on track with our values and reminders of where we want to place our focus.
Thank you, G for reminding me of this sketch and no didn’t know President Joe Biden has it in his line of sight, and for sending this link to where you bought it.
26/02/2020 – Sing along to your favourite song
Sometimes meditating is just not the most helpful thing to do and we’re struggling to make good choices, motivate ourselves, slow down, speed up, whatever it is. Music is a powerful First Aid for Feelings intervention. Singing along to a song can help not only support your mood but also support your posture and your breathing. This shifts your biochemistry to increase access to the more resourceful part of your brain and find your way forward.
Thank you G for reminding of of the Beatles glorious song: Here comes the sun.
31/01/2020 – Give your monkey-mind a ‘banana’
In Buddhism we talk about the mind being like a monkey swinging from thought to thought. Sometimes the speed of our monkey-mind is so fast that sitting down to meditate is actually unhelpful. It’s like slamming the breaks on your car when driving really fast; you’re likely to spin and loose control. A Helpful take on this is to give your monkey-mind a ‘banana’ so that at least for the duration of the banana, it’ll slow down enough to help you get your bearings. A banana is any activity that’s not related to your to-do list or relationships but holds your mind’s focus for a wee while, just to ‘tap the breaks’.
Joe recommends doing a Sodoku to help slow the monkey mind down enough.
31/12/2020 – Get some time outside
With many of us confined to our homes, it’s more important than ever to get some time outside. A walk gives you fresh air to breath and movement for your body. Both help you access the more resourceful part of your brain. This means you’re more likely to make helpful choices. Top tip for First Aid for Feelings. Thank you William for this recommendation.
18/12/2020 – Hannukkah candles
In a recent Mindful Monday Check-in one person talked about how it was helpful to light the Hanukkah candles. This simple action made him feel connected with his loved ones, even though he is not able to be with them during Hanukkah.
01/12/2020 – My Octopus Teacher on Netflix
A beautiful documentary about a man who’s lost his zest for life and is struggling to connect with himself, his loved ones and his job. It’s nourishing, inspiring and a powerful reminder of what it means to actually live.
If you don’t have Netflix, check out this trailer on YouTube, which has interviews with the filmmaker to give you a real sense of this magic.
15/11/2020 – The book Poetry pharmacy by William Sieghart
Reading poetry to help you explore perspectives, insights and knowledge.
01/11/2020 – The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Lighthearted TV series can give that regular escapist relief over a few weeks.
A heady, hilarious and helpful mix of sci-fi, feminism and surreal plot lines, Buffy, has for many, been a helpful 45 minute dose of First Aid for Feelings.
22/10/2020 – The song Do the right thing from the movie Frozen 2
Sometimes we need to connect with the child-like mythology of animation and musicals.
When things feel overwhelming and we struggle to see the point, that’s a helpful message to bear in mind.
07/10/2020 – The movie Finding Joe
It’s been recommended as an inspirational way of seeing the challenges and suffering we experience as dragons to be slayed and finding meaning.
It’s a docudrama about the Hero’s Journey and Joe Campbell, the anthropologist who discovered the journey and quest we’re all on.
16/09/2020 – A Spotify playlist featuring a mix of jazz music and conversation
It’s been recommended because of its low soft beats that supports feelings of worries easing.