If you were to suffer a painful injury – say you broke a large bone in your leg – what would you do?
Would you try to shake it off? Hobble round on it for a while hoping no one would notice? ‘Suck it up’, try to get over it and get on with your day?
No, you wouldn’t (no one would).
One of the first things you would do would be to go to the Doctors, the Emergency room or the Hospital and get it fixed – right? Because you suffered a significant physical injury and you would need the appropriate first-aid in order to heal.
So how come when you suffer an emotional injury (yes there is such a thing), like heart-break, rejection, or loss, you don’t seek emotional first-aid?
Not many of us do. Instead, most of the time we suffer in silence.
This is because as a society we tend to value our physical health above our mental health. I tend to think this is because physical health is often more visible than mental health (you can visibly see a broken leg, you can’t see loneliness).
But just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt; doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Emotional injuries can be just as painful as physical ones, sometimes more so.
That is why it is so important that we start to value our mental health (our emotional health) just as much as our physical.
Emotional first-aid can come in many forms (depending on what works for you) but one of the best pieces of advice I have learnt in this area is allow yourself to feel however you’re feeling, allow yourself to grieve, but also do something that will make you feel better.
While grieving or suffering an emotional injury, one of the first things I will do is allow myself to get up, go somewhere private and cry, scream, laugh, whatever I feel like doing and get it out. Sometimes I’ll just go for a walk, speak to someone on the phone, or sit in silence for a while doing nothing but listening to music – whatever works.
Don’t just suffer in silence or try to ‘suck-it-up’ and get over it, do something to start the healing process.
The brilliant Psychologist and author Guy Winch explains why we all need to practice Emotional first-aid in one of my favourite TED Talks below. I have watched this video several times over already, I promise you it is worth a watch!
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