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21.07.2016 admin
When you get a cut or a scrape, you usually have your own first aid kit to help out with that, don’t you?
I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, and thinking about what I would prepare for myself for those ‘off’ days.
A journal that you use specifically for writing about things you like about yourself, and things that you’re grateful for in your life. I’ll also take this opportunity to indicate that meditation and yoga have been really useful for me to centre myself when I’m feeling angry, lonely, or upset.
I know it might be a bit of strange idea – after all, mostly we’re encouraged to look after our physical selves and not to give much attention to our mental health until something goes wrong. As a social work student, I occasionally hear great pieces of life wisdom from people who have been in the business for a long time. This is really helpful, I have a mental illness and needed someways to bring me up from my down days, so this has helped. A practical first aid kit has been developed by Tropicare in close cooperation with a large Dutch NGO (MEMISA). Suitable for the home and for short trips, day trips, outdoor sports activities and in the car. This could be in playlist format on your mp3 player (or your phone), it could be a CD from your favourite artist, or even (and I know we’re getting a bit old school here) a mix CD or tape that you’ve put together or that someone has kindly put together for you. These can be ones that you have written to yourself (an interesting practice, but one that can be really enjoyable) in a friendly tone, or from other people in your life.


A lot of the time when we’re feeling low, just having that sense of safety and warmth is enough to make us feel even the tiniest bit better. I’m not encouraging people to spend time ‘living in the past’ – that would be counter-productive. I know it sounds ridiculous – why would you want to sit around seething for twenty minutes? Mindfulness is to do with being in the present moment and being ‘mindful’ of everything that’s happening without being stressed about it. Social work can be extremely challenging, working with some really difficulty, heavy issues. Playing sports, going to the gym with a friend or heading to the dojo for some training are all quick and healthy ways of burning adrenaline and releasing endorphins. Some people are better equipped for dealing with these sorts of things – some people (though I must admit I haven’t met one) don’t actually have these little ‘episodes’ of feeling blue. Showing gratitude can make you feel good whatever mood you’re in – just saying thank you to yourself for knowing when to rest and take time out is great.
You can ask them specifically to write a nice letter for this venture if you feel comfortable with that, or you can simply exchange letters and keep them together if they make you feel happy. It doesn’t have to be a stuffed animal or a blanket, it can be an action figure that you loved playing with, or even just something that reminds you of feeling safe and loved.
I’m just suggesting that by having this box of things that bring you joy, your low mood may be easier to handle, and may not hang around as long.


One good technique is to think of five things that each of your senses is experiencing – that is, five things you can see, five things you can hear, five things you can smell, five things you can feel, and, if you can do so, even five things you can taste. One social worker once said that the way he gets through those hard, heavy days is by keeping a notebook on him at all times. Many people will have their own specific first aid kits depending on the area they live in and what they’re prone to – and how cautious they are. For those of us who do could it be possible to prepare a sort of ‘Mental Health First Aid Kit’ for yourself?
This technique just helps to take you out of the situation that is upsetting you and put you back in control. Even if it wasn’t in actual physical box or bag, and just a list of things that you keep in a journal or your brain – what sort of things would you put in there?
So, even techniques can be put into your mental health first aid kit – you can write down a few things that you know can help and put them in there, too.



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