When You Feel Unsafe In Your Body & In The World
10 Things To Do
I have been struggling as of late with feeling unsafe in my body as well as unsafe in this world. I don’t mean physically unsafe, although, I do sometime feel physically unsafe in today’s current cultural climate, but I digress. To some, hearing about someone feeling unsafe in their body may be difficult to understand—especially if you’ve never personally had this feeling. I am all too familiar with this feeling. I’ve felt it off and on my entire life. This is common for those of us with trauma and/or anxiety.
I am someone with a heightened sense of awareness of my body’s sensations—all of them and nearly all of the time. I feel it all. When my anxiety is at its worst, I can’t seem to stop the obsessive inward focus. This puts me in a state of freeze, because it feels too scary to move; like moving will shake another sensation loose—another tiny terror.
So, today I thought I would make a top 10 list for myself and for others who might also be struggling with finding a felt-sense of safety. These might not all work for you. I welcome you to include your own in the comments.
Breathe: The breath that is most helpful for me these days is inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through pursed lips. No counting necessary.
Move Yr Body: When I am at my most anxious and feeling unsafe in my body, it can feel immobilizing. Sometimes it’s good to sit with this feeling, but other times I know I’ll feel better if I simply start to move. This can be very slowly and deliberately. You can start by wiggling each finger—one at a time and seeing how that feels. You can shake your entire body if that feels available to you. Just start to thaw yourself from the freeze response.
Color: I use an app called “Happy Color” on my iPad with my iPad pencil, but you could also just color on paper or buy a coloring book! I’ve realized that coloring has been very effective in helping me to slowly feel some safety in my body. The act of using my hand and concentrating on colors can help me get out of bodily sensory overload and inside my body in way that brings relief.
Journal: I started doing Morning Pages several weeks ago, and I think has been helping me get a lot of gunk out of my head. Morning Pages was created by Julia Cameron and it’s basically just free writing 3 pages right away in the morning (or as soon as you can get to it). No editing!
Text/Call a Loved One: Who are the people you trust with your whole heart? Or even with half of your heart? Text them—about anything—as a reminder to yourself that the world is vast and you have community all around you.
Watch/Read Something Cozy: When I really just need a break, I look to cozy tv shows/movies/books that get me out of my head (and body) for a short reprieve. You can read about the stuff I find cozy here.
Hug a Tree: Ok, maybe not literally, or maybe literally, I don’t know. Just getting outside and being in nature can do wonders to help us ground and find some sense of safety.
Somatic Self-Support Exercises: I show how to do some that I like here. There are many more, these are just the ones I have learned and that work best for me.
Guided Visualization: When I am feeling unsafe, I can’t do body scans (I can’t really do them even when I’m feeling safe), however, I can listen to a guided visualization (one that isn’t telling me to focus inward). There are many free ones on YouTube.
Do you do any of these? Which are your favorites? What others do you do that aren’t on this list?
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