Sometimes, like being in the middle of a pandemic, we just cannot engineer being in a safe place. Everything around us feels wrong and out of control and fixing it is beyond our capabilities. When you feel emotionally unsafe, it can be really helpful to have somewhere inside yourself to escape to.
Pick your safe place and learn to visualise every detail of it so that you can go there in your imagination if you need to. It should be somewhere that is utterly safe and secure to you. Think about all your senses when imagining it. You can also people it with those friends and/or family who you feel totally safe with.
'Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.'
Henry Van Dyke
When we get stuck in difficult or unpleasant patterns of thoughts, feelings or behaviours, it can be useful to distract ourselves for a while.
It might help to make a list of things that really work well for you as distractions so that you have a variety of ones to choose from. Distraction can take the form of reciting a poem or song you know off by heart or by counting things such as times tables or counting backwards from 100. My favourite distraction game is to pick a topic such as dog breeds and go through the alphabet: Afghan, Beagle, Cocker Spaniel, etc.
‘There is no moving up and out into the world, unless you are fully acquainted with who you are. You cannot move freely, speak freely, act freely, be free unless you are comfortable with yourself.’
This is another way in which we can gain control over our breathing and use deeper, slower breaths to help calm ourselves and reduce the feelings of anxiety.
Try the following deep breathing technique:
‘There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them.’
Anxiety can cause shortness of breath because your body is making preparations to fight its way out of trouble or run from it and prepares by getting more oxygen to your muscles. This is natural but can feel really frightening. Exercises which slow your breathing will signal that there isn’t a threat and your body can therefore stand down.
Try the 3, 4, 5 technique to slow your breathing down:
‘Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.’
Franklin D. Roosevelt
‘A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world: everyone you meet is your mirror.’
― Ken Keyes Jr.
Move your body.
The mind will follow the body so just changing your space, position or activity can lead to a change in emotions and thinking. Just small shifts in mood can make a difference to the quality of a day.
If you are sat down somewhere feeling increasingly anxious then get up and move to a different place or change the activity you are doing. Try a few stretches or some gentle exercise. Go outside if you are inside or vice versa.