How to Create a Safe Space During Extreme Turmoil
With all the chaos and turmoil going on in our world right now, it might seem like it’s getting harder and harder to find that safe space in your home, heart and mind where you can retreat and rest.
As a nation, we’ve been through some pretty hard and stressful times in our history, but recent events have only compounded the tornado of uncertainty, upheaval and stress that 2020 had already brought to our world.
When it seems like the Devil is perpetually knocking on your door, how DO you find that peace of mind that you crave?
Well, first, it IS possible to achieve it! But, as with all worthwhile things, you have put the effort in to create it.
Part of what contributes to the sense of anxiety, worry or fear during times like this is the sense that we’re helpless. We can’t change other people’s actions, angry words or destructive tendencies. We can’t change a virus from overwhelming our health and economic systems.
It’s that paralyzing feeling of being out of control, both in our immediate, and outer world, that we need to address head on if we’re ever going to get back to a place of feeling grounded again.
To get there we have to start with staying present.
I’m sure your initial instinct is to say “Well….from where I’m sitting, being present isn’t so pretty”.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, the present circumstances in our world are pretty upsetting and seem pretty bleak right now.
No, because truly being present also means not worrying about the future or spending time regretting the past.
Many times, our “present” anxiety stems from worrying about the bad stuff that we are afraid could be waiting for us in the future. Envisioning it right now generates the same emotional and physical stresses as if it were happening in the present.
Now, that’s not to say that we should pretend that none of the real and painful things that many of us are experiencing are real, because they are real! There are very few in our community that haven’t been directly touched emotionally, economically or physically, by COVID and its devastation.
When we’re in that space of pain and loss, it can be really hard to step back and assess the good that is still around us. But, it’s in those moments, that it’s so critical to do so!
Even the smallest source of joy has the power to change your world and your vision of it.
So, start by looking around you for those sources and shift your focus, as much as you can, toward the positive. Figure out what you can be grateful for and make that exercise a priority in your day.
I always start my day, and end my day, by mentally listing the things I’m most grateful for. When I do this, I’m creating the intention to focus on the positive things, and even if something bad happens in the day, I can always right the ship by remembering what’s most important.
I find it’s the simplest of things that will allow that warmth and joy to flow into me.
It can be a long walk in the winter sunshine and deeply breathing in the beauty of nature that we’re lucky enough to have just outside our doors. It can be playing with a friend’s adorable puppy, drinking my favorite chai tea, reading a good book that makes me laugh or puttering in my garden.
Whatever “It” is, make a commitment to doing at least one, or more, of those things each, and every, day. Don’t let the daily grind of “I gotta do this or that” get in the way of your healing time.
Want another instant shot of happiness? If you haven’t been able to physically get together for a while, pick up that phone and reconnect with friends and family!
It’s amazing how connecting with those you love can turn a crappy day around in a blink of an eye. Reach out! Make the time and the effort to prioritize human connection as a staple in creating your safe space.
The next tool to creating your safe space is to ask yourself two important questions.
The first question is: “Are my emotions or thoughts being generated by something I have no control over?”
To counter feelings of helplessness, you’ve got to identify what you can control and what you can’t. If you can’t control the thing, person or event that’s upsetting you, it’s only wasting precious energy to worry about it.
The only thing you truly have control over is yourself.
Many times, we can make a bad situation even worse by the frame of mind or attitude we have about it.
If we expect pain, we’re only inviting it. If we expect to find a positive solution, we open doors to potential solutions that we might not have thought possible.
Once you identify whether you have control over something or not, the second question is: “What is it that I’m presently doing that is contributing to my anxiety or depression that I CAN change?”
We’ve already touched on some of things that can turn negative emotion into positive and healing experiences. Getting out in nature, connecting with those we love, finding gratitude in things we already have surrounding us.
But, you can do more.
Reduce, or temporarily eliminate, the “negative noise” that we’re constantly exposed to from media that churns out a daily stream of stories of nothing but fear and chaos.
For us to create a safe sanctuary, there’s no room for peace or respite from things we can’t control, if we constantly feed ourselves a diet of tragedy, pain and chaos.
So, as hard as it is for us who are hooked on them, take a breather from the web instant news feeds, social media or other media sources that aren’t providing supportive, encouraging or other form of positive messaging.
I’m not advocating sticking your head in the sand forever. I’m just saying ramp it down a bit and give yourself the space to have some downtime to gather your thoughts and emotions in an “anxiety-free” zone.
Another way to think about it is a reset. From time to time, your computer or phone will develop a glitch and start to freak out on you.
What do you do? You turn it off and restart it so that it can reset and more times than not, that’s all it needed to get refreshed and fix the problem.
Humans aren’t all that different. We need to take that time for ourselves, step out of life’s daily pattern, and allow ourselves the space to hit that reset button so we can come back healthier, happier and able to better handle the bumps and bruises that our world is experiencing right now.
So, give yourself that gift. Make it a priority this week to create your own safe space or haven and find the peace that you, and frankly all of us need, to start 2021 off on the right foot!
So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!