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Creating a safe place
by TeenHelp May 3rd 2015, 11:50 AM

Creating a safe place
By Sammi (Elixir.)

What is a safe place?
In a nutshell, a safe place is something you create to escape from the world for a time. While it may sound like a physical space, there are no limits to what your safe place can be. It's entirely possible to create a safe place that doesn't exist (or can't be visited) anywhere besides your mind. Your safe place is a place for you to relax, recenter, and rejuvenate. It allows for "me" time whenever you need it, whether it be to deal with triggers, frustration, stress, or overall bad days.

Physical safe places
When trying to determine a physical safe place, try thinking about a location where you feel most at ease. This could be a room in your house that is just for you, a nearby park that you visit often, or the lake, just to name a few. The idea is that it is a place where you feel separate from the world and its negativity.

If you choose to create a safe place in your home, try choosing an area that isn't frequented by other housemates. If an area like this does not come to mind, try setting up a corner of your bedroom that is solely for safe thinking and relaxation. Fill that area with things that calm you, such as photos of things that make you smile, tapes with soothing sounds on them, a journal or sketchbook you can use to express your thoughts, and anything else that helps you release your stress.

If you choose a location outside of your own home, remember to bring calming things with you when you go. If your safe place happens to be the lake, for instance, you can bring a book and an iPod along to get lost in the story and soothing music. You can also bring a camera with you to take photos of your safe place to keep on hand when you may not be able to get there right away.

Mental safe places
While physical safe places are great, it isn't always possible to get to that location. This could be for a number of reasons, such as your ability to drive there or a general lack of proximity to the area. If this is your circumstance, it's still entirely possible for you to have a safe place. Close your eyes and think about a time and place that you felt completely happy or at ease. This could be a favorite vacation spot or a relative's house. It could even be somewhere you've never been, but have always dreamed of going. The beauty of constructing a safe place in your mind is the fact that the possibilities are limitless!

Concentrate on your chosen place. What sounds would you hear there? What sights would you see? Are there any tastes, smells, or touches that help bring you positive feelings? Remember those and keep them at the back of your mind. Choose a word that sums up your safe place and recite the word to yourself so you associate it with your chosen place. When you need to go to your safe place, try to take yourself to a quiet area of your house to allow yourself maximum opportunity to focus. If you can't get somewhere quiet, do the best that you can to shut out the world around you. Bring all of those senses up to the surface and envision yourself doing a favorite activity in your safe place. It might take a few tries for you to master it, but you'll soon be able to take yourself there with ease.

An example of a physical and mental safe place
There is a botanical garden near my parents' house that I used to go to often when I was a child. To me, it has always been an incredibly peaceful place, so I think I will make that my safe place. When I need to get away from the stresses of my daily life, I'll pack a lunch, grab a favorite book, some music, and a blanket, and head to my favorite grove of trees within the gardens. While there, I might also pick up one of the scavenger hunt sheets I used to do when I was younger to allow myself to focus on seeing the beauty of nature, rather than thinking about everything going on my life. When I cannot make it to the gardens, I will visualize the scenes I am so familiar with and remember the scents of the many different flowers found within the gardens. I may listen to tapes of different nature sounds, such as birds chirping, leaves rustling, or water in a creek to help me connect with the gardens. One of my favorite things about the gardens is the fact that they're so quiet aside from the natural sounds, so I have chosen to associate the word "quiet" with the gardens. As I mentally enter my safe place, I will repeat the word "quiet" to myself in order to strengthen the association.

Final Thoughts
Regardless of your safe place being physical or mental, remember to leave all negativity at the door when there. Surround yourself with positive objects, positive thoughts, and positive coping mechanisms to help you through whatever you're feeling. If you're skeptical about the idea at first, give it time. It really will make a difference when you feel overwhelmed!
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