Creating an Emotional First Aid Kit
As an emotional eater, whenever you feel bad (aka angry, sad, betrayed, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, etc) you might have a tendency to reach for your go-to soother of choice – FOOD. But, as you may have realized by now, eating when you’re not hungry can have serious side effects and be (overall) detrimental to your health.
And sure, if you’re anything like me, you’ve made lists of things you can/should do instead of eating… but (for the most part), once made, the list lies untouched and abandoned in a notebook somewhere, while you continue with your behavior that seems to take you further and further down into the Pit of Despair.
Don’t you wish you had a first-aid kit for your emotions?
When you scrape your knee, you get bacitracin and a band-aid – and that makes sense because it promotes healing and provides protection.
But when your heart gets broken, or your feelings get hurt… how does cake, cookies, or any food really, promote healing and provide protection? It doesn’t.
So, today I want to share with you how to make your own emotional first aid kit that is calorie (and thus guilt) free.
Why would you want an emotional first aid kit?
Because, let’s be honest, emotional eating (this includes stress eating, comfort eating, etc) is really about self-soothing – trying to make yourself feel better. You need this sort of soothing because your needs have gone unmet.
- You needed compassion -> but didn’t get it.
- You wanted friendship -> but got rejection.
- You desired relaxation -> but go a longer to-do list.
- You wanted connection -> but felt loneliness and abandonment.
The list goes on and on.
One of my primary goals here in the website is to share with you tools, tips, and tricks that I have used, or that have worked for my clients to help them take better care of themselves, and to provide more tools for the toolbox. Because I figure if you have some options, perhaps you’ll choose one. =)
Oftentimes, we learned the behaviors from others; caregivers who themselves had no idea how to deal with their emotions (much less ours) and so modeled a series of behaviors that really don’t work so well.
But it’s never too late to learn a new skill or behavior. And building this emotional first aid kit is a step in the right direction.
How to make an emotional first aid kit
- Start by getting some sort of container for your kit. It could be a box, bin, or basket – whatever you like and speaks to you. Pick something you like or will enjoy looking at. The more time and effort you spend on this, the more likely you will be to use it.
- Fill your container or space with things that you love or make you feel loved, cared for, aka amazing.
I think it’s a great idea to use a “senses” approach. Depending on the situation and what you’re experiencing, certain soothers may appeal to certain senses. For example, if you are hurt by the words playing over and over in your head, music might be a good antidote for that, because it can be difficult to “hear” those thoughts when you’re literally hearing good music. =)
Some ideas for populating your emotional first aid kit
- Eyes: pictures of people, places, and things you love; mementos or memories; items in your favorite color.
- Ears: a CD (aka mixtape) of your favorite music, MP3s of favorite jokes, a beautiful piece of poetry.
- Skin: lotion, lip balm, massage octopus, teddy bear, or other item with a comforting “feel.”
- Nose: favorite room freshener, essential oil, or perfume.
- Mouth: gum or breath freshener, essential oil mix, water enhancer
- Soul/Spirit: religious writings, meditation books, intuitive reading cards (angel cards, oracle cards, tarot cards, etc.)