It’s a general fact that you have to brush your teeth every day to prevent cavities. You also know you have to clean and put a bandage on a wound to prevent infection, right? But when you’re hurt emotionally, do you apply the same care as you would with a physical wound? Have you ever thought about the amount of care you put to your emotional health?
How does my emotional health in senior high school affect me as a student?
Your emotional health affects your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. When you have a good emotional health, you’re aware that stress and problems are a normal part of life. You’re able to deal with these challenges positively and productively.
Imagine cooking your baon when you accidentally cut yourself. You wouldn’t continue preparing your food while ignoring the bleeding. You would apply first aid immediately. Applying first aid to an injury will ease your discomfort, prevent potential harm, and speed up the healing process.
Your physical health and emotional health are like twins. Emotional turmoil can pose risks to your well-being being the same way that physical wounds do to your body. If you leave these emotional wounds untreated, they can also cause a bigger problem. So how do you mend these emotional wounds?
In his TED Talk, psychologist Guy Winch lays out seven ways on how you can apply emotional first aid.
1. When you feel worthless…
Ever had those days when you feel you’re not enough? Self-esteem is how you evaluate your own worth and value. When you have low self-esteem, you tend to be more critical about yourself. You may have thoughts like “I don’t think I can do this.” Or you compare yourself to your classmates with better grades and ask yourself, “Why am I not as smart as they are?”
Your first aid tool: Build your self-confidence. Self-esteem is like the immune system of your emotions. It protects you from emotional wounds. When your self-esteem is weak, you’re more susceptible to further injury. Whenever you experience pain, treat yourself with compassion. Write a support letter to yourself as you would to a friend.
2. When you feel weak after a rejection…
Needless to say, rejection is a painful experience for anyone. Even research suggests that rejection can cause both emotional and physical pain. But you can’t avoid rejection. Winch refers to rejections as the cuts and bruises of daily life.
Your first aid tool: Say positive words to yourself. Saying negative things to yourself can only make the wound larger. Instead, list down all your best qualities and write why they matter. Be constructive and focus on what you can learn from your experience. Here’s how you can use negative experiences to become a better person.
3. When dealing with loss…
When you lose someone you love, it may feel like a part of your life is missing, too—much like an emotional fracture.
Your first aid tool: You don’t need to force a smile all the time. Coping with loss is definitely a personal experience. But remember there are people you can rely on as you go through the healing process. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Resisting negative feelings only will prolong difficulty. Read how creativity helped this student cope with grief.
4. When you feel like a failure…
Failures are inevitable in any person’s life. In fact, failures are an important ingredient for success. Winch refers to failures as emotional chest-colds. However, frequent failures can trigger frustration. If you leave your frustrations untreated, they can become psychological pneumonia.
Your first aid tool: Be aware of how your mind reacts when you fail. It’s natural to feel bad when you receive low grades, fail in a varsity tryout, or lose in a school competition. But it shouldn’t stop there. You need to fight the feeling of helplessness. Don’t get convinced that you’re a failure. Assess your past actions and consider how you can improve them. Take a positive stand on failure. Here’s how you can get better at failing.
5. When you’re in that nega-mood again…
Though it’s natural to feel upset when something bad happens, thinking over your negative feelings and thoughts repeatedly can be harmful. Brooding on your past negative experiences is like constantly picking at your emotional wounds. These actions won’t help you heal.
Your first aid tool: Distract yourself by doing something you love. Do a crossword puzzle, pursue a hobby, or read a good book. In fact, studies show that “distraction by doing a pleasurable and familiar activity provides anxiety relief.”
6. When you feel lonely…
Everyone has experienced loneliness at some point. Whether it’s that uncomfortable feeling of being away from your loved ones, transferring to another school, or a breakup, it’s always a hard pill to swallow. Although it’s natural to feel loneliness, the longer you stay in this state, “the weaker your ‘relationship muscles’ become.“
Your first aid tool: Confront your thoughts. Think about what is making you feel lonely. Is it because you don’t get to see or talk to anyone? Do you feel like nobody understands you? Just as taking medicine is a remedy for muscle pain, connecting with your loved ones might be a good remedy for loneliness. Volunteering can also be a great way to meet people and make new connections. If you’re studying abroad, here’s how you can beat homesickness.
7. When guilt is paralyzing you…
Excessive guilt is like poison in your body. It takes your energy away and wastes your time. It can be the guilt caused by something you did or didn’t do. If left unresolved, lingering guilt can affect your thougths and behavior.
Your first aid tool: Re-evaluate your guilt then think of action steps to deal with it. If you feel guilty knowing that you’ve hurt someone, gather the courage to apologize. If you’re dealing with irrational guilt (the self-punishing feeling that is not grounded in fact), practice self-compassion. Don’t be an enemy to yourself. Here are other signs you might be creating your own obstacles.
Having a positive outlook in life is a trait that enables you to see problems as opportunities to grow and develop. Self-directed learners also have this trait. Sure, avoiding difficult situations all the time might be impossible, but when you have good emotional health, you can handle these challenges productively. So next time you experience negative emotions, try to remember these quick emotional first aid tools.
Do you want to become a healthier individual, not just for yourself, but for others around you? Find more self-care tips on our Generation Zen blog section!