Discovering how to feel safe when dealing with anxiety

(Graphic by Adele Palmquist)
(Graphic by Adele Palmquist)

When it comes to dealing with anxiety, it can feel almost as if there is nowhere you belong and you feel as though anywhere you go is dangerous in one way or another.

In a way, it makes it so that every situation you encounter is a struggle and it only makes you more fearful — more in life and in society..

For a lot of people, including myself, even just going out for ten or so minutes to the store is difficult because of what you hear about the world through the news, or what you imagine could happen to you, and it makes you fearful.

Some of the things that are thought of can be extremely terrifying because you start to believe that they’ll actually happen.

Take for example myself: I’ll be walking down the sidewalk, and I’ll see a car go by and far too often do I start imagining things like the car stopping and talking to me and somehow convincing me into the car with them.

Then what? Well, then I start to imagine how I would escape if they were kidnappers, who would even care, how would I let someone know, etc. It’s just an endless vicious cycle of the question “what if?” and to be honest, that’s what I find to be the scariest thing.

There is always a “what if?” because you never know what could be out there. You never know if you’ll be the next victim. Sure, many have this thought, but when dealing with anxiety, it’s an everyday thought that you struggle with and it makes everything difficult.

You convince yourself that you aren’t safe and that you’ll never be safe.

Those who don’t understand say it’s just in your head, but it isn’t. If it was all just in your head, you wouldn’t feel afraid, and you wouldn’t have symptoms of being afraid: shaking, upset stomach and feeling like you’re going to be sick.

There is something you can do about it though, and that’s creating a safe place, or maybe even knowing where your safe place may be.

For me, whenever I’m at a concert, I feel like I belong and I have close to no anxiety at all because all I can focus on are the performers and the joy of being there. Sadly, I can’t always be at a concert, and I need to find a different safe place.
What I like to do is isolate myself from others; including noise and any other distractions that would get to me. Once I do this, I like to just close my eyes and just stop and take a second or two to let everything catch up to me. I breathe as calmly as possible — in through my mouth, out through my nose, and just let my body relax.

Now this is a great technique for anyone. Give yourself some time away, calm your breathing, relax your body, and imagine.

Imagine yourself in an environment where everything is okay — anything you want can be there. Imagine the sounds, the smells and how your body feels there. Imagine what you can see that’s near you, and what you see when you look into the distance. If it helps, you can also imagine someone there with you that you feel safe around in reality.

You have to be able to create a place in your mind where you can feel yourself feeling relaxed and at peace. You have to be able to let yourself create a safe place that’s just for you.

For myself, my safe place is loosely based on just focusing on the things that have made me happy in the past, and what would make me happy in the future. In the end, I guess that’s all that matters, anyways. The future is big. The future is beyond us all. We have to hope for the best.

When you deal with anxiety everyday of your life, you have to have hope for a better future where you can live how you want to without being held back by an illness.

And that’s what a safe place to me is. A safe place is a place for you to feel okay, to feel safe, to feel like everything is right in the world. Which is what the future is all about.




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