What is Emotional First Aid?

Every day, people can get hurt emotionally at work, just like they might get physically injured. We know how to respond to physical injuries, but sometimes we don’t know what to do when someone is emotionally hurting and needs help. Different experiences, like being yelled at by a boss, fighting with a co-worker, or facing unexpected changes, can be painful for people.

Sometimes, we can recover on our own, but if we don’t have Emotional First Aid (EFA) skills, the pain can stay and become a lasting wound. Everyone reacts differently to personal experiences, so what might not seem like a big deal to you could be really tough for someone else. Without EFA skills, people can keep replaying bad situations in their minds, which doesn’t help them feel better and can lead to problems like depression or substance abuse.

Having EFA skills can be useful not just for helping others but also for protecting yourself from negativity at work. With these skills, you can support your co-workers and keep a healthier environment for everyone.

8 Emotional First Aid Tips for Helping Others

  1. Be a Positive Listener. When someone is stuck in a rumination loop, they might just need a good listener to help them move on. Listen without judging but try to pick up on cues of how they were hurt.
  2. Encourage Positive Self-Talk. Repeat key moments of their story, so they know you’re listening, but leave out any negative self-talk they included.
  3. Remind Them to Be Kind. Ask how they’d feel if you were in their situation. Remind them to treat themselves the way they’d treat you or other co-workers or friends.
  4. Help Them Reframe the Situation. Ask what they would do differently next time. This can help them move past the incident by planning for the future.
  5. Encourage Resolution. If possible, suggest they talk about it with the other people involved. Most people don’t want to hurt others, and they will likely modify their behaviors in the future.
  6. Help Them Find Closure. Recommend they write about what happened and then write how it could have gone better. Writing can help bring closure and break the overthinking cycle.
  7. Share Mindfulness Strategies You Use. Go for a walk with them or suggest other mindful activities: breathing exercises, yoga, etc.
  8. Recommend Counseling. Counseling can help people recover from psychological wounds fast. It’s free and confidential with services provided by Uprise Health.

Being aware of Emotional First Aid skills is crucial in creating a supportive and healthier work environment. Understanding that emotional pain can be just as impactful as physical injuries, we can better respond to our co-workers’ emotional needs. With these simple yet powerful EFA tips, we can foster a workplace culture that nurtures emotional well-being and empowers each other to overcome challenges with strength and compassion.

Visit your Member Resource Hub today to learn more about emotional first aid.