Here’s where our community share their recommended things to put in your First Aid for Kit for Feelings

We regularly ask you (via our newsletter) to recommend stuff that you find helpful to have in your First Aid Kit for Feelings (books, movies, scents, playlists, activities, spaces, anything really). This page contains all of your past recommendations.

Now you might have a first aid kit at home, packed with plasters, paracetamol, bandages and so on. A First Aid Kit for Feelings works in exactly the same way. However, it’s packed with tools, tips and things that help you respond to emotions and symptoms.

The role of physical sensations and emotions is often dismissed, and we go to great lengths to suppress, ignore, numb, or disconnect to these feelings. But all feelings are information and there will come a time when ignoring them will start to negatively impact our work, relationships, and health.

We use something that allows people to recognise feelings — even when they are uncomfortable — and deal with them well. We call it ‘First Aid for Feelings’.

Are you familiar with the mnemonic ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) for medical first aid? We adapted this to work for feelings so it’s ABC for Feelings, which stands for Awareness – Breathing & Body – Choice.

You can discover more about this technique and start taking advantage of it by signing up to the First Aid for Feelings course on Insight Timer. You can listen to Day one for free and without even creating an Insight Timer account, allowing you to see if this is something that could be helpful for you.

If you’re not already receiving the Helpful newsletter, consider signing up now to get helpful tips, topics & other useful content straight to your inbox.

In the meantime, you can discover some of the recommendations from previous weeks below. Click the ‘Read the newsletter’ button after each to discover more from that week’s newsletter:

25/08/2023 – Struggling to have fun? Meet the Fun Police!

Becca wants to recommend Tai Chi which has helped her in her recovery. She started with chair-based Tai Chi as she wasn’t strong enough to stand. Over time as her ability strengthened and improved she was able to stand for longer and longer periods, eventually being able to complete a full set of movements, referred to as form. Harvard Medical School regularly publishes information on the various health benefits of Tai Chi and it’s great to hear Becca’s story and recommendation. Thank you Becca for sharing your experience.

A helpful librarian at the local library helped Becca find a suitable class. A search online can also yield great results. There are also qualified and experienced Tai Chi teachers who now teach online.

Click here to read the Harvard Medical School research.

Note from Thor: Tai Chi was instrumental in my recovery. I was first introduced to Tai Chi in 2007 and it’s something I’ve continued with in some shape or form ever since.

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21/07/2023 – How to make a lasting self-care promise on International Self-Care Day 24/7

Winston wants to recommend a book called Tiny Traumas by Dr. Meg Arroll. He was fed up people telling him to ‘get over it’ when he was struggling with the something that was maybe ‘tiny’ but was having a ‘big’ impact. He was looking for something to add to his First Aid Kit for Feelings to help him when he found Dr. Meg’s book. Thank you Winston for this recommendation and sharing why this book has been so helpful to you. Click here to go to Dr. Meg Arroll’s website to find out more.

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26/05/2023 – Send yourself messages in the future with the HiFutureSelf app

Yadid wants to recommend the HiFutureSelf app where you can send yourself messages in the future. Originally recommended by Thor, Yadid now uses this app in lots of helpful ways. His favourite feature is a pre-set message he’s written to himself that pops up when he pulls up outside his parents house. The message reminds him to do his ABC (Awareness – Breath and body – Choice) First Aid for Feelings and remember the more helpful Choice of not expecting his parents to be different then they are. Thank you Yadid for this recommendation and for the tip about this location specific feature. That’s a brilliant addition.

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31/03/2023 – The hippo and the crocodile

Jane has been using the three scoop ice cream model of the brain for a while now and has become more skilled at recognising when she’s crocodiling. She recommends watching this short clip of a hippo and crocodile as a way of opening up possibilities in terms of how to engage with the crocodile part of the brain.

She loves this clip because it was a surprise that any creature would challenge a huge crocodile and because watching it made her laugh (a bit like a laughter supplement). She was tickled by the idea of approaching the crocodile from the tail end, giving it one bite and then another.

Thank you Jane for this hilarious demonstration of way to deal with a crocodile differently.

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10/02/2023 – Who you gonna call?

Raynor often struggles with unhelpful thoughts. He finds it helpful to think of them of ghosts as they are often related to people or events in his past. He’s realised that when these thoughts and associated feelings show up it’s helpful call his ‘ghostbusters’.

His ghostbusters are three of his closest friends. They help him remember that he’s working through those historical experiences and that he has more helpful choices in his First Aid Kit for Feelings. He has the film on his First Aid for Feelings movie playlist and watches it when he’s struggling. He also has the theme song from the movie as his ring tone for these friends. His invitation to you is to ask yourself ‘who you gonna call?’ when you’re struggling.

Thank you Raynor for sharing your experience and for your invitation.

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13/01/2023 – Why cleaning has meaning

Jane wants to recommend this book about cleaning and why it has meaning. She’s found it profoundly helpful and it’s changed her attitude to cleaning as well as the activity of cleaning. Thank you Jane for this recommendation.

At the start of a new year it can be helpful to focus on the mundane magic of cleaning and how this act of caring for your home is also an act of self-care.

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26/08/2022 – Watching cat videos is fun and beneficial for your health and wellbeing

Henry is recommending a new Netflix documentary called Inside the Mind of a Cat. The makers of this documentary propose with evidence from experts that watching cat videos is fun and beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Cat videos can function as great ‘laughter supplements’, something to get you laughing even if just for a chuckle. The biochemistry of fun and laughing acts like fertiliser or rocket fuel (depending on which metaphor suits you better) for any kind of recovery. Do you watch cat videos? Do you agree?

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23/07/2022 – Pay attention to what you believe about self-care

Belinda wants to recommend not an activity or a ‘thing’ but to pay attention to what you believe about self-care. She shared that she had always intended to do self-care but just never ‘got around to it’. Realising that her belief that self-care was selfish was like this handbrake holding her back was a revelation. With help she was able to update her belief to ‘self-care comes first’. Her recommendation is to invest the time in understanding your belief about self-care. It’s worth it not just for you but your loved ones too.

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24/06/2022 – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy makes for wonderful reading

Heather recommends the book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. She says it only takes 10/15 min to read and that it’s just a wonderful book. Very easy if you shattered to read. It is beautifully illustrated with hand drawn pictures and big writing. It’s a good pick me up book. Each time you read it you can take something different from the story.

Thank you Heather for this recommendation. Click the image or this link to watch a four minute video of Charlie talking about the making of the book.

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27/05/2022 – Dancing can help you limber up and feel good

Michael recommends dancing. He says that even just dancing to one song in the morning helps him limber up and connect with feeling more playful. Dancing is great for physical and mental health and even helps you stay smart. His favourite dance move is the John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever pose.

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22/04/2022 – Get some aromatic shower products just for you

Gawain recommends investing in shower products that you like the smell off and not just using what others in the household like using. Now he’s got an eco-friendly soap bar for everything and it’s got a mild citrus smell that makes him smile every morning. It’s made a bigger difference than he ever expected! What are you using?

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01/04/2022 – Treat yourself to fresh bed linen for extra care & comfort

Maya wanted to share how helpful she finds giving herself fresh bed linen when she needs that extra bit of care and comfort. She’s got special First Aid for Feelings bed linen which is extra soft and cosy.

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11/03/2022 – What smells soothe you?

Smell is the sense that has got the fastest access to the fear ‘centre’ in your brain. Knowing this about your brain, think about what smells you find soothing. Margaret has a bottle of her best friend’s perfume in her First Aid Kit for Feelings. The smell of the perfume connects Margaret with her friend and eases the fear.

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25/02/2022 – Consider having movies in your First Aid Kit for Feelings

Our friend Watson has recently been doing a lot of self-advocacy, so he added the film Erin Brockovich to his First Aid Kit for Feelings. The film helped him when he needed to connect with his courage and mojo.

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11/02/2022 – Invest in something that gives you a sense of joy…

Maya recommends investing in something that gives you a sense of joy and helps you do what you love doing. For example, Maya bought herself new seeds and tools for planting, including a new watering can she’d had her eyes on for a long time. She wanted to share that, in total, this cost her less than £30, which is an amount she would have been willing (and able) to spend on a loved one, so why not herself?!

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28/01/2022 – Discover videos that soothe & settle you

“Watching videos with Thích Nhát Hanh helps to soothe and settle me” says our friend, Nigel, and he wanted to offer a video as a recommendation for this newsletter. This one is his favourite – Our appointment with life.

A word from Thor: “Thích Nhát Hanh, the Buddhist monk and founder of the Plum Village tradition of Engaged Buddhism, died on January, 22nd. I have been practising in the Plum Village tradition since 2003 and my practise informs and shapes why The Helpful Clinic is a social enterprise and how I work. I feel grateful, connected and at peace as I honour and appreciate his presence and contribution to my life and work.”

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15/01/2022 – Gardening has significant physical & mental health benefits

Research shows that gardening has significant physical and mental health benefits and many of you talk about how much you enjoy it. Jude realised that she was struggling with not having much gardening to do at this time of year and decided to get herself a Bonsai that she could care for to keep her going till spring.

Thank you Jude for sharing this great ISOP.

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31/12/2021 – Have a date with yourself

Have a date with yourself on New Year’s eve to reflect on 2021. Savour the people, places and moments that made you smile, that made you cry and that helped to strengthen your skills and sense of self. Make an effort. Treat this as a date with the most important person you know, because that’s what it is.

Your relationship with yourself is your most important relationship. Looking after that well helps you live the life you aspire to. This is my recommendation to you, I hope you enjoy your date as much as me, myself and I enjoy ‘our’ date!

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17/12/2021 – Consider using the Paired app for couples

Download the Paired app here:

Here’s what Jackson who recommended the app says: It’s helped us open up topics of conversation we’ve not really engaged in, especially around wants and needs, plus expectations of the relationship. It’s also enabled us to challenge some biases and previously stuck thoughts on how we both perceive the relationship, such as opening up about what we do and don’t like.

The app content is straightforward to get into and use, with a mix of text-based content, tips (which you can share privately in the app with your partner), quizzes and other interactive content. Just getting involved with it a little daily helps keep an open channel of comms between us – even if we see each other all the time, the app stimulates conversations around the unspoken.

I’d say it’s a valuable tool for anyone. There are also many new things to explore around desires, wants, and needs that rarely come up in any other conversation. So it’s pretty beneficial there too.

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26/11/2021 – Join or start a small common interest group

Join (or even start) a small group with people who share something that you’re interested in and is nourishing for you.

Jane recommends the book A Very Short Book About Writing by Jonathan G Davies who did exactly that. He’d always wanted to write but struggled. Joining a group has meant that he’s now published this small book and is working on his first novel. The book itself is an inspiration to write through your experiences and feel the better for it. Thank you Jane for this recommendation.

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11/11/2021 – Consider adding the cinema to your First Aid Kit for Feelings

Cinema is a great space for some First Aid for Feelings where you can disconnect from the outside world for a couple of hours respite. Films are a portal into the world of stories and adventures. You can charge up on motivation, determination, love, empathy, and magic, helping you feel ready to reconnect again.

Thank you, Sam, for this recommendation.

P.s. the cinema is also one of Thor’s favourite First Aid for Feelings spaces.

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22/10/2021 – Want to relax? Watch some watchmaking

Watchmaking can be deeply relaxing to watch. Here’s a 9-minute video with ASMR which means that there is a heightened focus on the sounds involved which enhances the relaxing effect. Having a video like this in your First Aid Kit for Feelings means you can use it to slow down and de-clutch your mind when it’s going too fast.

Thank you Jesus for this recommendation.

Link to video:

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08/10/2021 – Dancing can make you feel better

Nietzsche famously said, “we should consider every day lost in which we’ve not danced at least once.”

Dancing is great for supporting your lymph system, lungs, heart, muscles and mood. Add in the magic of music and voila you’re feeling better.

Thank you to Suzanne for this recommendation.

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24/09/2021 – Music can help get you into the mood for certain situations

We can use music to get us into the vibe and mood we need for a particular situation. The song Under pressure with Bowie and Queen is a great song to listen to as you’re preparing for a negotiation. Reminding us to ease the pressure and give love a chance, love for ourselves and others. With that in mind, we’re more likely to look for shared interests and opportunities than differences. Listen to Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure here.

Thank you to Kathy for this recommendation.

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10/09/2021 – Lego can help you get off the ’roundabout of unhelpful thoughts’

Doing something with your hands can help you get off the ’roundabout of unhelpful thoughts’ and shift your focus to something where you can see immediate results. Lego is great for this. It’s fun and creative, which helps connect you to your top scoop. This is the part of your brain that’s better at troubleshooting and thinking strategically. Thank you Harry for recommending Lego!

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18/08/2021 – Apps can be helpful or building and supporting habits

Apps can be helpful and there are various apps available for building and supporting habits. Thor has been recommending this one for years. It’s not strictly a habit supporting app, it’s a messaging app where you can send yourself messages, like habit prompts, into the future. If you have an Android phone, look for DearFutureSelf and if you’ve got an iPhone, look for HiFutureSelf.

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04/08/2021 – Swings can be great when you want to take a break

Swings are great for connecting with your inner child and just having a play, taking a ‘break’ from whatever is going on in your life. The rocking movement can soothe and ease tender feelings. There’s just something about the joy of having your feet off the ground. Thank you to Catherine for this recommendation.

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20/07/2021 – Dark chocolate can help ease pain

It’s true, dark chocolate can help ease pain (including menstrual pain), lower blood pressure and improve brain function. The key is that it needs to be at least 75% dark cocoa and voila… it’s medicinal! Thank you to Lorraine for this recommendation.

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29/06/2021 – Movies can be really helpful when we need to connect with ourselves

Voted one of the top – Laugh Out Loud – movies ever, this is John’s go-to film when he needs to connect with the humorous and at times hilarious aspect of ‘self-work’. Thank you John for this recommendation.

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16/06/2021 – Send someone a letter, they’re a joy to receive!

Write a letter to your friend and send it by post. Whether it’s just a weather update or about what you appreciate about them and your friendship, letters have a different quality from other forms of communication. It’s a joy and surprise to receive a personal letter in the post. Thank you Harry for this recommendation.

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04/06/2021 – Turmeric tea can help relieve inflammation & relieve pain

Curcumin, which is an ingredient in turmeric, has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Thank you Clare for recommending turmeric tea to help ease pain. You can find a recipe for turmeric tea on the BBC Good Food website.

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18/05/2021 – Epsom bath salts for pain relief

Epsom bath salts can help ease pain when added to your bath water or used for in a foot bath. They are particularly helpful for muscular-skeletal pain, that is pain in your muscles and joints. Thank you to Joe for this recommendation.

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04/05/2021 – Laughter often is the best medicine

Laughing is one of our most primary and enjoyable feelings and experiences. I’ve been recommending laughter supplements for years. This one is a classic. It’s 1 minute and 44 seconds perfectly sized laughter supplement. Thank you to Joe who recommended it to me all those years ago. Watch the video here and laugh along.

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20/04/2021 – Pets can really help reduce anxiety and stress

It was Pet Day on Sunday, April 11th. There’s lots of research about the stress reducing benefits of pets.

Selica sent these brilliant photos of some of the pets that help her and hubby Richard, along with this thoughtful quote. Thank you Selica.

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06/04/2021 – Food can be powerful First Aid for Feelings

Joanne recommended Chicken Soup as proper, restorative, First Aid for when she’s feeling lethargic and demotivated. She always keeps a portion in the freezer so it’s ready and available when she needs it. For a vegan version try tofu. Do you know what your First Aid Food is?

In addition to the famous book Chicken Soup for the soul, there’s also research by Troisi and Gabriel that proves that comfort foods like chicken soup support the need to belong and comforts.

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23/03/2020 – Poetry can be profoundly helpful

Poetry can be profoundly helpful as it distills experiences into a few words.  This poem is skillfully crafted to evoke how it feels when times are tough with an invitation to face the kind air to come.  As here in the UK we mark and honour the anniversary of starting lockdown this poem is poignant. To find just the right poem remedy for how you’re feeling, check out The Poetry Pharmacy.

Thank you H for recommending this poem.

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09/03/2020 – In sight – in mind

What are you looking at and is it helpful? We recommend turning the phrase ‘Out of sight – out of mind’ inside out so it becomes ‘In sight – in mind’.

The prompts and inspiration we get from what’s in our line of sight help us stay on track with our values and reminders of where we want to place our focus.

Thank you, G for reminding me of this sketch and no didn’t know President Joe Biden has it in his line of sight, and for sending this link to where you bought it.

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26/02/2020 – Sing along to your favourite song

Sometimes meditating is just not the most helpful thing to do and we’re struggling to make good choices, motivate ourselves, slow down, speed up, whatever it is. Music is a powerful First Aid for Feelings intervention. Singing along to a song can help not only support your mood but also support your posture and your breathing. This shifts your biochemistry to increase access to the more resourceful part of your brain and find your way forward.

Thank you G for reminding of of the Beatles glorious song: Here comes the sun.

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31/01/2020 – Give your monkey-mind a ‘banana’

In Buddhism we talk about the mind being like a monkey swinging from thought to thought. Sometimes the speed of our monkey-mind is so fast that sitting down to meditate is actually unhelpful. It’s like slamming the breaks on your car when driving really fast; you’re likely to spin and loose control. A Helpful take on this is to give your monkey-mind a ‘banana’ so that at least for the duration of the banana, it’ll slow down enough to help you get your bearings. A banana is any activity that’s not related to your to-do list or relationships but holds your mind’s focus for a wee while, just to ‘tap the breaks’.

Joe recommends doing a Sodoku to help slow the monkey mind down enough.

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31/12/2020 – Get some time outside

With many of us confined to our homes, it’s more important than ever to get some time outside. A walk gives you fresh air to breath and movement for your body. Both help you access the more resourceful part of your brain. This means you’re more likely to make helpful choices. Top tip for First Aid for Feelings. Thank you William for this recommendation.

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18/12/2020 – Hannukkah candles

In a recent Mindful Monday Check-in one person talked about how it was helpful to light the Hanukkah candles. This simple action made him feel connected with his loved ones, even though he is not able to be with them during Hanukkah.

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01/12/2020My Octopus Teacher on Netflix

A beautiful documentary about a man who’s lost his zest for life and is struggling to connect with himself, his loved ones and his job. It’s nourishing, inspiring and a powerful reminder of what it means to actually live.

If you don’t have Netflix, check out this trailer on YouTube, which has interviews with the filmmaker to give you a real sense of this magic.

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15/11/2020 – The book Poetry pharmacy by William Sieghart

Reading poetry to help you explore perspectives, insights and knowledge.

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01/11/2020 – The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Lighthearted TV series can give that regular escapist relief over a few weeks.

A heady, hilarious and helpful mix of sci-fi, feminism and surreal plot lines, Buffy, has for many, been a helpful 45 minute dose of First Aid for Feelings.

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22/10/2020 – The song Do the right thing from the movie Frozen 2

Sometimes we need to connect with the child-like mythology of animation and musicals.

When things feel overwhelming and we struggle to see the point, that’s a helpful message to bear in mind.

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07/10/2020 – The movie Finding Joe

It’s been recommended as an inspirational way of seeing the challenges and suffering we experience as dragons to be slayed and finding meaning.

It’s a docudrama about the Hero’s Journey and Joe Campbell, the anthropologist who discovered the journey and quest we’re all on.

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16/09/2020 – A Spotify playlist featuring a mix of jazz music and conversation

Click image for link to playlist

It’s been recommended because of its low soft beats that supports feelings of worries easing.

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