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How to Create a Safe Place in Your Mind

Image of a bay taken from above a waterside town.Katherine Broadway, M.Div, LPC, Raleigh Psychotherapy, Counseling, Safe place

An internal safe place is a tool that you can create to help you manage stress and the busyness of life. It is a place in your head where you can retreat to take your attention away from the feelings you are having in the present moment. It is all yours, designed by you to be safe, soothing and calm.

10 Steps To Create A Safe Place

1.Find a comfortable place and set aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Sit in a chair that can support your back and where you can put your feet firmly on the floor. Get comfortable. Let your eyes close, or focus them on something that is pleasant.

2.Breathe slowly.

Breathe in to a count of 5, hold that breath for 5 counts, and breathe out for 5 counts. This will help your body relax and bring your attention inside of yourself.

3.Create a picture in your mind of a place where you feel safe.

This may be a place you have been - the beach, mountains or some other place you enjoy. It can be a place you make up or somewhere you have heard of and want to visit. It can even be a fantasy land you create just for you. In some cases, it may be an activity that feels calming to you, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or running.

4. Describe in detail what you see in your safe place.

Describe what it looks like. Are there trees, grass, sand, rocks. What are the colors you see? Are there other people there?

5. What sensations are you feeling in your body?

Is it hot, cold or somewhere in between? What are you wearing? Do you feel a breeze on your skin?

6.Are there any smells?

Food cooking, aromatic plants or flowers, earth smells?

7. Are you hearing sounds or is it silent?

Take all the time you need to fully experience and develop your special safe place.

8. Now, place yourself into the scene.

What are you doing? Are you sitting in a chair, lying down, walking around or doing something? What are you wearing?

9. Take a mental photograph of what you are seeing.

10. After you have your safe place developed, chose a cue word or phrase to represent this place.

It could be “beach, sunny day, Hawaii, running". Use the word or phase that describe the place to you. Say the word as you imagine the scene you have created for yourself. Do this 5 times. This will enhance the effectiveness of your cue. When you want it or need it, use this cue word to evoke the memory of your safe place.

When you feel you have developed your safe place and your cue, turn your attention to your current surroundings. Let your mind and attention be fully on where you are in the moment.

It is important to reinforce your cue word and safe place. Take time everyday to say your cue and visualize your safe place. This can be done quickly by closing your eyes and saying or thinking your cue while letting your mind’s eye see your safe place.

In the next few weeks, we will talk about times when you might go to your safe place, and ways you can use it to help manage the rest of your life.


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