#write28days of Nervous System Regulation – Day 5: Safety
Welcome to #write28days where I am writing on the topic of Nervous System Regulation! Today’s focus is: Safety.
The topic of safety is a huge one in nervous system regulation. In fact, the whole reason your nervous system gets and sometimes stays dysregulated is that it feels it is not safe.
Now that is a *good* thing if you are truly unsafe in the moment. I’m not going to list ways that could be — I’m sure you can imagine an instance where your body needs you to make a quick decision for your immediate safety. But today’s stressors are often less in need of an immediate run for safety and are more cognitive stressors: a job loss, a chronic illness, or even too much to do and not enough time to do it. Or it could be that you had severe stressors in your past and not now, but your body is “stuck” in fight or flight. These can all lead to a chronic feeling in your nervous system that it is not safe.
What we need to do, that I briefly touched on in Day 1 of my Nervous System Regulation series, is develop a deep sense of “felt safety” in our bodies.
You may not even know you need this, because you have had nervous system dysregulation for so long, that being in fight/flight is like the air you breathe – it is there all the time and you don’t know any different. I know this was the case for me. I have even learned that in many instances when I *did* feel calm, it was actually me dissociated to such a huge degree that I wasn’t really “all there.” But more about that another day.
This is a good video by therapist Irene Lyon regarding developing a sense of deep safety in your body.
Some things I am doing to enhance my sense of safety
Feeling completely safe in my own skin is something I’m not even sure I fully understand, as I don’t believe I’ve ever felt it. But I am beginning to feel inklings of it. I’m confident with patience and continued practice I will get there.
Some things that help me are:
*Scriptures about and knowledge of God’s power, particularly Psalms 91 and 23, and Exodus 14:14.
*Employing embodiment practices : sometimes simply sitting and focusing on the sensations I feel in my body, sometimes qi gong, or Feldenkrais exercises. I don’t believe everything typically talked about in the qi gong videos, but I just say my own thoughts about God or prayers during those times. Sometimes I just breathe slowly and move about with my breath however I feel like.
*Sitting with curiosity about about my symptoms like I discussed here.
*Slowing down, especially my breathing and internal “intensity”. I have a sticky note on my wall by my door that says, “Slow everything down by 10%”
*Learning about and practicing boundaries. This is not easy and did not make me feel safe at first, but the more my body and self know that I will stand up for it, the safer it starts to feel.
*Being patient with myself. Again, and again, and again.
Because you can sometimes feel worse before you feel better, I recommend you have some guidance or help with this, or at least do a lot of reading on the topic before you just pick a practice to try on the fly.