Fear is one of the root causes of many mental health difficulties. From the fear of making a fool of yourself in front of others to fearing a relationship ending. There’s the fear of losing your income or having poor physical health and pain, fearing spiders in your bath, or the fear of getting lost and being attacked in a new city. In today’s world, there’s an almost endless list of potential causes of fear. When you don’t feel safe, you’ll worry and experience a range of uncomfortable physical sensations, all of which make it tough to enjoy life.

One thing to bear in mind is the difference between feeling safe vs. being safe. For example,  you’re not in a dangerous situation before an exam, but you can still feel unsafe. Feeling safe is a sense of confidence in your ability to manage situations and also a feeling of familiarity and comfort in your body. So a person can be unsafe in an abusive relationship but feel safer there than making a change to leave, which can evoke a feeling of unsafety,

What consitutes feeling safe is different for different people – some love public speaking whereas for other people that’s a terrifying prospect, some may be scared of snakes and others make a living from working with reptiles. Become aware of the difference between the two and where you are safe and where you feel safe.

However, attempting to be or feel 100% safe 100% of the time is impossible. A more helpful question to ask yourself might be, how can I be and feel safe enough? Some ways to do this could include:

  1. Learn how to tolerate uncertainty – if you’re always trying to control outcomes and look for guarantees that things are going to go the way you want, you may end up feeling stressed a lot of the time. There are very few certainties in life, and any moment of uncertainty doesn’t automatically mean something terrible will happen. It’s just as likely that something great or even something fairly neutral might happen instead. Think about how you can learn to tolerate more uncertainty in your life. This might be learning to accept uncertainty and the emotions it brings or starting to experiment with uncertainty in small ways, such as not looking up film reviews before going to the cinema or choosing something new to eat at a restaurant. This way, you can slowly start to build up a sense of confidence in your ability to manage uncertainty and anxious feelings. It might also reveal how uncertainty can, in some circumstances, be exciting!
  2. Look at what you can control or influence – This is another way to manage uncertainty and fear. You can’t control everything happening in the world, but one thing you can control is what media you consume, and this includes how frequently you read or watch local and world news. Like eating healthy foods for the body to support physical health, what we feed our minds has an impact on our emotional and mental wellbeing. If you want to keep up with current affairs, limit your consumption to quality over quantity. Choose news feeds that carry out extensive research for their content and acknowledge and explore the complexity of situations rather than relying on frantic headlines to pull in readers.
  3. Foster compassionate and respectful relationships – Spend time with people you feel safe with. Having a network of supportive people in your life and knowing who to go to when you need help will be a great resource for anytime fear starts to creep in and take over. Sharing your fears with others in a safe way can help you see most people go through times when they struggle to feel safe. 
  4. Remember how the body feels when it’s calm, confident and safe – Visualise or physically try to recreate this. For example, you might feel safe when you’re feeling warm, so get yourself a weighted blanket or hot water bottle, or cuddle your pet cat or dog. Check your breathing is calm and slow, and consciously stretch and relax the muscles in your body.
  5. Adapt your environment – Do whatever you can to make your home – or workplace, where appropriate and applicable – feel as safe as possible. This might be as simple as playing gentle, calm music, or adding more green plants to rooms, or buying scented oils which remind you of a smell from a time in your life that felt safe and secure. And if there are serious problems in your neighbourhood, workplace, or within your current relationships, seek support from friends, family, any neighbours you connect with, and relevant local authorities and organisations.

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