All we see right now is “Stay Safe”.
When you think of safety what do you think of?
Do you know what it means to feel safe? What helps you feel safe? How does it feel in your body when you feel safe?
Are we responsible for our own safety? Does it mean don’t take risks ever? Does it mean manage your risks? How do you decide which risks are okay to take and which are not?
What can we control and what is out of our control?
Do you get in your car and drive every day? What is the risk that you’ll die in a car accident?
We typically think of safety in terms of the physical. Are we in immediate physical danger? Do we have enough food, shelter, water and clothing to survive? These are the things we’ve been conditioned to think of when it comes to safety.
Safety is SO much more than that, though.
Did you think about my previous questions? What does it feel like in your body when you feel safe? Now, how does it feel when you feel UNSAFE?
For me, it can depend on the situation but often my heart rate increases, I may have some difficulty breathing or forget to breathe and I feel a need to get away.
What types of circumstances, situations or experiences can make you feel those sensations?
You may realize that we can feel unsafe even when we’re not under threat of physical danger. These sensations come up during every day interactions in relationships sometimes.
Why do you think that is?
It’s because somewhere along the way we’ve been conditioned to react that way, unconsciously, based on our past experiences, especially one’s that we had as children. And children, some more than others, are sensitive and prone to reacting in illogical or misinformed ways because they just don’t know any better and weren’t taught any different.
So, we carry these conditioned, fear-based automatic responses with us into adulthood. Now, we feel unsafe (though we don’t often recognize it as that) when our boyfriend doesn’t tell us where he’s going because we remember that our Dad did that to us one time and it ended up really scaring us. But we react in anger, jealousy or disconnect now to protect ourselves from feeling that vulnerability. Instead of admitting to ourselves that we are scared and feeling unsafe, we put up a wall of false control by using other emotions.
Does this sound familiar? Specifically, with what is going on in the world today?
Safety and fear can take over the world if we let them and if we are unaware of what is going on within.
What’s happening in the world now is having a massive impact on this critical concept that humans need: Safety.
Many of us in the Western world, have known material safety for our whole lives. We are blessed, of course and that in no way invalidates our struggle right now.
Our lives have been uprooted more or less in a lot of ways. In different ways for each of us but the concept is similar: it affects our sense of safety.
Safety is absolutely critical in one’s health and wellness. It is the very foundation with which everything else is built. We may not have as much struggle with our immediate survival needs but, again, it doesn’t change the impact for us. We cannot overlook the impact this past year has had on all of us. We can’t keep denying that we’re all okay just because we have food to eat and a house to sleep in.
Our freedoms have been taken away from us. Our business’ have been hugely impacted. Our right to gather has been taken away. Our right to activities that sustain our mental and physical health have been denied. Our families are divided in belief. Our loved one’s have been at the risk of sickness and even death. The world is changing. There is violence and upheaval.
Make no mistake, this is an attack on our safety; on our nervous systems. This is not something we were prepared for. We survived so far but have we stopped to evaluate and check in with our bodies? How are you doing?
Are you burned out? Are you a nervous wreck? Did anyone teach you how to cope with something like this? Has anyone taught you how to come out of survival mode in an effective way? Are you stuck in maximum stress mode with anxiety through the roof, some depression, maybe a lot of anger? Or maybe you’ve been using blanket positivity to get through it? Maybe you’ve had to put on a happy face for your family or for work? Are you exhausted yet?
When are you going to stop and take care of yourself? Can you go on like this indefinitely?
So, I’m with you if you’re not willing to fully take care of yourself.
I started with saying no to some things. Less stimulation. Less physical work. Less driving. Less working outside in the cold. Less work.
I started taking supplements because that is easy and something I could commit to. Here’s what I am taking:
The other important thing I did was stop drinking coffee or consuming caffeine as much as I could avoid it. It’s been about 2 weeks. I’ve had a couple caffeinated teas now, and half a cup of coffee on one day.
With this, if I do have caffeine, I will wait 1-2 hours after waking up before having any. This allows my body to naturally wake up on its own terms and have a natural waking cycle.
I’m still neglecting great nutrition, exercise and time outside which I know are all important.
My body feels like it was in a car crash. It’s sore all over, rigid, and tight. It doesn’t want to move. It doesn’t help that I am cold all the time and to pull my arms away from my chest requires painful effort.
Coming out of unsafety, trauma, and fight/flight mode, is challenging. If you don’t know that this reaction is going on within your body you do risk making things worse. You might try to do things with good intentions, thinking something that helped in the past might work again now. You must be careful. This is all about stimulation and nervous system activation. The system will be very sensitive.
What you need is safety, gentleness and comfort.
In the world of wellness, we may mistakenly be encouraged to meditate, do breathwork, find a healing practitioner, etc. Importantly, this may cause more suffering than good right now. You must use your own body as guide as best you can to decide if its right for you. However, my experience, was that sitting to meditate or trying to breath deep was more detrimental to me. I am not an expert, so I am not sure the exact reason but you really just want to do things that will calm the nervous system. Breathing deeply did not calm me, though, slower and less deep breathing did. Seeing healing practitioners for emotional healing work over-stimulated my already overwhelmed nervous system making my condition worse.
Some other things that may help are slow, less deep breathing, showers/baths, listening to your favorite calming music, talking to someone you trust, and time spent resting.
We have a tendency to desire quick fixes, always. We don't want to slow down. We don't want to do the one thing that we really need and that is the struggle.