Emotional and mental first aid: 11 immediate interventions

by | Jun 19, 2024

mental first aid

This business of living can generate confounding questions when you’re trying to manage emotional or mental health challenges. For instance, what do we do when chaos strikes and we go down with a serious injury? Let’s talk about it…

Reach out to someone in need. Yep, when things ease up a bit, help someone stabilize and survive their injury. Seriously, there’s enough of you to go around.

A cut, burn, insect bite, nosebleed, sprain, fracture: most of us know some effective first aid interventions.

A panic attack, derealization/depersonalization episode, mania flare-up, phobic reaction, meltdown, out of control anger, self-injury or suicidal ideation: many of us don’t have a clue.

Curious, isn’t it.

Emotional and mental first aid

How many first aid courses have you taken? Plenty on this side of the fence. Would you agree that traditional first aid focuses upon physical injuries befalling others?

But what if it’s an emotional or mental injury? And what if we’re the injured parties? What then?

Traditionally, it really hasn’t mattered. However, there have been positive changes in terminology and education curricula – such as Psychological First Aid.

Right here, right now, we’re going with emotional and mental first aid.

Emotional and mental first aid: 11 immediate interventions

“Nice and easy, baby. We’ll get through this.”

For some 50 years, I’ve sustained my fair share of emotional and mental injuries. And I’ll tell you, I used to be one of the ones that had no clue as to how to respond.

With that experience under my belt, I’m bringing you the following interventions should you go down with an injury…

  1. Keep in mind that an immediate “fix” isn’t the goal. If you go that route, you’ll turn into a spinning top. The bottom-line here is emotional and mental stabilization and survival.
  2. Find a safe and quiet place (could be where you are) and slow down long enough to get an accurate fix on what’s happening. There’s no way you can expect to stabilize and survive in the immediate if you don’t know what’s really going on. While you’re at it, take into account how you traditionally receive, interpret, and respond to troubling circumstances. Is your mind flooding you with inaccurate data? This would also be a good time to pull some grounding techniques out of your back pocket.
  3. Expanding upon #2, I’ll bet the farm that cognitive distortions are a big part of your life. There are several that may come into play, but catastrophizing – the disaster-supposing “What if’s?” – can wreak havoc.
  4. Recall a time when you found yourself in the same or similar position. What did you do that worked? What didn’t? And if you fell to pieces, okay, encourage yourself for this go-round by saying, “What better time to change? I’ll pull it off this time!”
  5. Don’t go it alone, unless you have no choice. Isolation will get you nowhere fast. Spouse, partner, family member, friend, therapist, psychiatrist, spiritual power – solicit help. You deserve the company and support.
  6. Never discount the positive influence of exercise, proper food and drink intake, quiet time, hobbies, meditation, yoga, rest, sleep, etc. Regular participation and practice will result in less frequent injuries and they’ll be easier to manage when they occur. And why not, say, hit the gym or meditate in the moment?
  7. I can think of all sorts of quick injury relievers: alcohol, cannabis, recreational drugs, smoking, benzos, opioids, and then some. Don’t abuse – rely – upon any of them. You can manage the situation without that kind of help.
  8. Keep a progress diary, updating it at the interval of your choice as well as after an injury event. What a great way to stay focused and disciplined. And it’s the perfect way to track progress. Why not keep it with you? It’ll provide great inspirational and reference material when it’s crunch time.
  9. Reach out to someone in need. Yep, when things ease up a bit, help someone stabilize and survive their injury. Seriously, there’s enough of you to go around.
  10. If you don’t have a spiritual power or don’t consistently chat with it, what better time to make some changes? If you’re all set, what better time to nurture the relationship?
  11. Who knows how long the worst of it will last? Just be patient and maintain hope because the fact is, you’ll eventually get yourself out of the weeds. You likely know that from the past.

Certainly there are more, but decades of sustaining injuries, and doing all I could to effectively intervene, led me to share these eleven. And customizing for the best fit is always a good thing.

Finally, use what you’ve learned when it’s your turn to administer first aid to someone in need.

Be prepared

Those of us enduring emotional and mental challenges know it’s a matter of when, not if. We’ll go down with an injury and it’s going to be all about immediate emotional and mental stabilization and survival.

So bone up on your interventions, have your grounding techniques ready, understand how you traditionally react to severe injury, know who you’ll contact if need be, and know that this in-the-trenches vet has seen and survived some pretty nasty stuff…

Be prepared.

If you or someone you care about are in immediate danger of any form of self-harm call 988 in the U.S. And here’s a list of international suicide hotlines.


If you’d like to read more Chipur info and inspiration articles, peruse the titles.

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