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How to Love and Accept Yourself. Emotional First Aid Kit: Part 2

This lesson is a part of an audio course How to Love and Accept Yourself by Linda Bjork

An emotional first aid kit is simply a list of emotional wellness tools that can provide an immediate, although the temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or other mental and emotional issues. An emotional first aid kit is especially important to be able to work through emotional walls and times when negative symptoms are intense. The remedies to work through emotional walls are surprisingly simple, but it takes some courage to follow through. With some practice, you'll gain confidence that these things actually work. Here are a few things you can do to boost mental and emotional health.

Connect with Nature

Spending time outside in nature is good for the body and the mind. It helps distract us from problems and just helps us feel good.

If the weather permits, take off your shoes and feel the grass or sand under your feet. Feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the breeze and feel your body moving as you walk. Hear the birds, or the waves, or the rustle of the grass in the wind. Smell the flowers and the trees and see the beauty of nature around you. Enjoy a sensory experience in nature and feel its healing effects.

Take a Walk

Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. It does wonderful things to help our emotional well-being. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, which are the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters. Walking is also a form of moving meditation which calms us down and distracts us from our problems. It improves mood, helps us relax and improves the quality of sleep. So if you're feeling stressed out, it might be a good idea to pause and go for a walk.

2-Minute Distraction

One of the unhealthiest and most common forms of negative thinking is called rumination.

To ruminate means to chew over. It's when your boss yells at you, or you make an embarrassing mistake, or you have a big fight with a friend, and you just can't stop replaying the scene in your head for days, sometimes for weeks on end.

Spending so much time focused on upsetting and negative thoughts, actually puts you at significant risk for developing clinical depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease.

The problem is, the urge to ruminate can feel really strong, so it's a difficult habit to stop. But there are ways to combat that urge. Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate at that moment.

If your thoughts are swirling in despair, take action to break free of them and attain a fresh perspective. Become immersed in a great book that moves you or watch a movie that transports you. Exercise. Go for a walk. In short, do what you know from experience, bounces your thinking to a more optimistic place.

If you can succeed in changing your mental channel for at least two minutes, you have a chance of breaking that destructive cycle of rumination. By battling negative thinking, you won't just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, and you will thrive.


When looking for an excellent distraction, laughter really is the best medicine. The laughter stops distressing emotions. It helps you shift perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light.

Laughter makes you feel good. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. It adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety and tension, relieves stress, improves mood, and strengthens resilience.

So what makes you laugh? A good joke? Funny cat videos? Make a list of things that make you laugh and keep them on hand because nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.


There are many studies that verify that meditation eases anxiety and mental stress.

Here's a mini-meditation exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere, to help calm you down in just a few seconds. With your hands in front of you, line up the tips of the fingers of your left hand to the corresponding tips of the fingers of your right hand. Take 5 slow, deep belly breaths while pressing the fingertips against each other with medium force. Shake out your hands and relax them to your sides or your lap and take one last slow, deep breath.

Connect with Friends

We live in a digital age where we can be tempted to replace person to person contact with phones and computers, especially if we're feeling vulnerable. But humans are social creatures; we crave feeling supported, valued and connected. Studies show that being socially connected increases happiness and leads to better health and longer life. It helps overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Make a list of the people you can turn to. These are people that you trust to support you and make an effort to contact them regularly. Reach out to them and ask for specific kinds of help. Remember, your friends can't read your mind, and it's not fair to expect them to.

There are so many tools available to help us feel happy. I'll share some more in the next lesson.

In closing, I'd like to share a quote from musical artist Molly Mahar, she says, "I am enough. You are enough. If I could teach today's young people one thing, it would be, that you are enough, every day, the way you are. You are loved from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You are an incredible creation; enjoy your own beauty."

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Written by

Linda Bjork