Thursday Thought: Emotional First Aid

emotional first aid

I heard about this Ted Talk on Emotional First Aid from my friend Winy, who has pledged to start her day, everyday, with a TedTalk to set her day off in an inspired and informed way.  I’ve followed suit but have varied my content – currently bingeing on How I Built This – so good! But this particular TedTalk on Emotional First Aid really got to me. It was something I had never heard about and I am so glad psychologist Guy Winch, not only came up with a digestible way to address it, but that he created a Ted Talk that prompted an ‘Ah ha!’ moment in me like no other.

Emotional First Aid?  What the heck is that?  It’s pretty simple, but something we hardly ever practice.  We as humans know from a very young age to protect our bodies. We learn to cover cuts with band-aids (or as Harlowe calls them, bam-baids), how to brush our teeth and to kiss bruises. What Winch was able to show so simply within the first few minutes of his talk, is that we don’t do anything close (applying the same care) for our minds. We play a funny type of favouritism to our bodies over our most powerful muscle.  We say things like, ‘toughen up, keep your chin up, everything is fine’ on matters of emotional trauma. However, when it’s physical, we instantly react with ways to fix it.

As Winch so perfectly puts it:

” ‘Oh, you’re feeling depressed, just shake it off, it’s all in your head.

 Can you imagine saying that to someone with a broken leg?

‘Oh, just walk it off, it’s all in your leg.’ “

So often we are hurt, discarded, feeling real pain and we brush it aside with fear that revealing it will make us appear weak or soft. We hide in our rooms, in our heads, ruminating over our failures. We chip away at our sense of ourselves, searching for ways to appear stronger, better, faster, ignoring the real issues at hand.

Scientists have proven that loneliness can have a massive effect on our health – as massive a risk as cigarette smoke. Loneliness can increase the likeliness of an early death by 14%.  Those are the facts, yet we continue to ignore our insides and are forever protecting and bolstering our outsides- protecting what the world sees.

Winch closes his talk by informing us that 100 years ago people started caring about personal hygiene – the result? life expectancy went up 50%.  I believe it’s high time that we really started investing in our emotional hygiene and our emotional first aid.  If we did, could you imagine how many problems in the world would be avoided?

If you haven’t seen this particular Ted Talk I urge you to watch it and share it with your friends.  Also, Winch has a book which I’m going to pick up.

 Here are 7 ways we can practice emotional First Aid.


What do you do to practice emotional First Aid?  Do you meditate, have a counsellor or therapist, take time out of your day for self care?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I need to start working on this ASAP.