During a nerve-wracking experience which is judged by our subconsciousness as a danger without a possibility to fight, a body pretends it is dead in order to save us. That’s an effect of being exposed to high stress which we call ‘depression’. It is the way our survival instinct works. An animal which can’t evade a predator tries to look like carcass to avoid death. It could have been helpful for us when we lived in the natural world. Unfortunately, now it is quite problematic – many of us have problems to return to the emotional balance after a highly stressful situation although objectively there is nothing dangerous around anymore. Statistics are terrifying – according to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 millions people of all ages suffer from depression!

So what to do when there is nothing to feel so bad in the present moment but we feel like crap? What to do when our subconsciousness doesn’t get we want to leave the past and finally be happy? What to do when we can’t deal with the effect of the trauma? There are a lot of therapeutic methods to let the subconsciousness understand that we are safe. Today I would like to share with you the one I got to know as the first on my path. It is called ‘a safe place technique’.

This method helped me when I had strong PTSD. I was in the state of such high anxiety and fear of other people that I was not able to work with a therapist. I needed to make my defense reactions lower before the real work started and this technique helped me a lot. I also have friends who don’t suffer from PTSD but they have too much stress in their lives. They use a safe place to relax and sleep better at nights. I believe it could work for many of us no matter what we struggle with. I like it because we don’t need a therapist or any special equipment to do that and money are not a barrier here at all.

This method is about creating a safe place for yourself and trying to relax there to let your subconsciousness understand there is no danger anymore. The relaxation means you are focused on every part of your body. You scan your body a part after a part and your job is to feel how uptight you are and then try to let it go. Before you start scanning your body you are building the space. The safe place could be a real space like a forest near your house where you have a hammock and your favorite blanket or a bubble bath in your bathroom with candles. It could be also a place in your imagination. You can create it in your mind using your thoughts or on a piece of paper with colored pencils and paints. The rule is the place has to be peaceful and quiet. No stimuli which can make you forget about yourself like movies or tv series. In your safe place, you put all the attention on yourself. You give yourself a chance to feel your body and observe how you become calmer and stronger.

To sum up:

  1. Create a safe space in reality or in your imagination. Let your imagination run away with you.
  2. Feel this space, look at it, hear the sounds, smell the air there.
  3. Scan your body to let yourself feel every part and then try to relax it, make your body less and less uptight.
  4. Practice regularly to see effects. Schedule it.

I’ll tell you how it was in my case. I was unable to find my safe place in reality for a long time. It was like my subconsciousness was able to find something dangerous to me everywhere. So the only way for me was working with my imagination. I practiced creating my safe place and spending time there every evening before falling asleep and in the situations on the daytime when I felt very bad. I drew pictures of my safe place and then hanged them on the walls in my flat. Those pictures reminded me of the moments when I felt better. After some time every longer look at them made me feel safer. They worked like good memories. And after some time of regular practice, I was able to find my safe places also in reality. I also learned how to recognize that my body is uptight in my everyday life – I’ve become much better in making it relaxed again.

To be clear, it wasn’t the only technique I used that time. There were also another which I will share with you in the next posts and podcasts. And it was a long process. Nothing comes to us without regular practice. Feeling safe, the ability to relax are skills to acquire. Take your time and just do it. Thank your body for the tries to save your life but be smarter than your survival instincts. No need to feel bad when there is nothing happening to you in the present moment. It is your time you can use to have fun. It is your precious life. So help your body to feel alive by finding your way to let it feel you are already safe. Tell me if you know the safe place technique or it is new to you. Tell me if it works for you. Tell me what you think about it. I hope it would work for you as well as for me.

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash  Thank you Willian <3