How to give Emotional First Aid

How to give Emotional First Aid

When traumatic situations happen they touch us on a deep physical and emotional level, bringing up a lot of fears and insecurities. These reactions are normal and happen to all of us. Knowing how to assist with emotional first aid  right afterwards and the upcoming days or weeks, can be the first and yet often forgotten part of healing and preventing trauma.

Most of us know how to give medicinal first aid after accidents or any other kind of traumatic situations, or we have even heard of it at school, when making our drivers license or any other training where it is includes.  But rarely we get taught about how to give emotional first aid after any traumatic situation  to prevent emotional trauma. As human beings we experience, loss, grief, anger or fear. No one can prevent us from that. But the way we are supported right after we experience traumatic situations has a big impact on us, even so big that this can be crucial if this experience is stored in our body and system as traumatic or not. On the physical level traumatic experiences of any kind are located in our fascia and joints, especially in our chest shoulders, neck and hips. The moment where the traumatic situation happens it goes in there as a shock, freezes them, creating solidification. But there are ways to remove it, to reactivate the flow and softness in our fascia, joints and our emotions.

All of the following techniques are some examples and  can help you, your family members or strangers in traumatic situations.There are of course many more techniques you can use. My few examples are just there to give you a feeling of what is needed and often missing.

I also refer to being there for strangers in situations that seem to ask a lot from them. If there is a trustworthy person present who is creating a feeling of safety and stability this will make a huge difference for them. This might feel unfamiliar to you but be the person who cares. That one who makes an effort, to help. Be the one who makes people feel seen. There is nothing stronger than someone who stays soft and compassionate in a world that is often fast and disconnected.

  1. Be there and stay there

Be there, present and keep staying with them as long as needed or possible. Having the continuous support of another person brings up a feeling of safety. Speaking in a soft whispering voice things like „You are safe now“, „I am here with you and I won’t leave“, „You can let go now, you are being  taken care off now“, „I hold you“, „You are not alone“, „Everything will be okay“. Use phrases you would say to a child to soothe down. Giving a feeling of safety, company, trust, relaxation. This makes such a huge difference. It doesn’t matter if it is after a physical accident or after witnessing an argument or experiencing  loss. And again if that loss is a person or a toy that meant a lot, doesn’t count. It’s the feeling that is present in that other person right now that is decisive.

2. Touch

Touching, hugging, holding, stroking, holding hands, Touching the back or the shoulders. Any kind of touch gives grounding and it even helps the other person connecting to your breath, which should be calm and sooth, helping them to relax and calming down their nervous system. And if it is you, that you are taking care of. Connect to your breath, touch your chest, give your body what is needed right now, touch your face, shake, rock, hum, jump, allow trembling, allow tears. All of that is helping you to release energy. Which prevents it to get stuck in your body.

3. Bring movement into your fascia and joints.

Move your joints and work on your fascia. As I said before, that’s the part in our bodies where the trauma goes and freezes until we move it.There are many myofascial release exercises to do so. Especially in the days afterwards. get moving. Activating your body and also your voice. Focus  Especially on your neck, chest, shoulders and hips as these are the most affected parts.

4. Rest and slow down

There’s not much more to say. Take it slow, rest as often as you can this is crucial for every healing process. Cut away all that is possible and even work on creating more space to create time for rest. If it is your child that needs rest or a family member, do what you can to help creating space to rest and slow down  for them and yourself. Especially when you are taking care and are around the other person a lot. Reflect on the speed of life, get conscious on your speed and where there is more balance needed.
It is also probably that you or the traumatized person feels confused, even the days after the experience. Give time and be patient.

Grounding will help to relax the nervous system. There are many options from, yoga, to movement exercises,sports, breathing, grounding food, herbal baths, time in nature, massages and so on.

5. Selfcare

Selfcare is as always key. Use your selfcare techniques, you know what is good for you. Take herbal baths, keep yourself warm, make foot baths, wear a belt around your hip to take care of your center, work with oils, do self massages, go for a walk, dance, sing, eat healthy, do yoga – all that feels nourishing and healing.

We cannot prevent trauma to happen, but we have the power to change how that event will affect our life or the life of others. I often say to the mothers that I am working with. You cannot prevent your children from experiencing traumatic situations but you can be there for them afterwards. Giving love, holding them , caring for them. That makes a difference. Give them time to adjust, slow down with them,listen to them and feel into them. What they need from you right now. Every child is an individual and what may be right for one, may not be right for everyone. be flexible and as always use your intuition.

Love Sheila

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