For most people, home is your safe place during this pandemic. But after three or four weeks of isolation, home may become more than a little claustrophobic. If the hubby, the kids, the roommate, or the same four walls are getting you down, create a safe place in your mind. How? Read on.
A Little Privacy
Find a place where you can be comfortable and alone for ten to fifteen minutes. You may wish to set a timer.
Got little ones? No problem. Take two minutes. It will take more practice to get that to that safe place when you use a shorter time period, but you can do it.
Places or Activities
Make a list, mental or written, of the simple activities that replenishes you. Any activity that makes you happy or tranquil. Examples are: laughing, singing, sleeping, drawing, reading poems or quotes, or even walking or running.
Also, make a list of places that make you happy. It could be a favorite vacation spot, a place you dream of visiting, or it could be when you’re in the swimming pool, or perhaps curled up in front of a fireplace. If it’s an activity, which muscles do you use? How do they feel?
List whatever comes to mind. These lists will be as unique as you are.
Pick One and Add Details
Which one activity or place makes you feel the happiest or the most tranquil?
Once you’ve decided on one thing, write out (or draw) all the details of that place or activity. It’s it warm or cold? Day or night? What do you smell? Hear? Can you touch it? See it? What do you taste?
Be as specific as you can. Instead of “lots of trees,” describe the trees. Do you see pine trees? Oak leaves? Do you hear the wind in the leaves or are all the leaves on the ground?
Take a seat. Get comfortable, whatever that means to you. Close your eyes, if that will help decrease distractionsfor you.
Breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Big, slow, even breaths. And as you blow out, relax your muscles. This may also take practice, but five breaths usually will be enough.
Create a Safe Place
In your mind’s eye, build that activity or place. Every detail. And see yourself there and feel the sensations of those details. Walk around the place or mentally perform the activity.
Let the mental image recreate that peaceful or happy feeling. Stay there as long as you can. You may have to work up to holding the mental image for a full ten or fifteen minutes
Some recommend that you name this place. Then after enough practice, when you wish to recall this image you can do it by saying the name.
Visualizing Doesn’t Always Work
Recently scientists discovered that some people have a “blind mind’s eye.” These people have no visual memory and cannot use visuals to imagine something. They use words to describe the visual. Scientists have named this condition, aphantasia.
So how do you find a safe place if you can’t visualize one? You don’t have to visualize it. List the words, the phrases, the emotions you connect with that object or activity. If that doesn’t connect you with that peaceful or happy feeling, try looking at a picture of the place or activity. Try music or poetry. It may take you a little longer to achieve that relaxed state of being safe, but you can do it. And with practice it will get quicker and easier.
More than One
You can make as many safe places as you need. Try different methods of finding your safe place. You might listen to music or the sounds of nature. If you have a treadmill or a yard to be your track, use it. Draw or paint. Sing. Play an instrument. It’s okay not to be visual.
Some Are Not Safe
Folks, we need to be checking on each other. If you know your neighbor is single, leave them a “thinking about you note.” Maybe have a safe chat—six feet apart. Some folk are doing neighborhood cocktail hours in their driveways or on their decks.
If you are not safe in your home, please call or text or online chat with someone. If you’re in the U.S. and you’re in trouble or need help, text SAFE and your current location (address, city, state) to 4HELP (44357) for immediate help. Or call and speak to a councilor on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 If you live outside the U.S. Wikipedia has a list of national crisis lines you can call. Find yours.
Why find your safe place in your mind? One, because while home is the safest place you can be during a pandemic, one can also feel trapped. Two, sometimes the outside situation can overwhelm us. Finding a way to recover feelings of safety and tranquility is one tool in a good mental health first aid kit. Three—because even introverts, even people with large families, even the unflappable can get flapped when the outside world doesn’t feel safe. Be safe, everyone. Be well. And please, leave a comment below. Let me know how you’re doing.