Living on the edge, and making yourself safe places

We are all on the edge, and we are all safe.  Photo by Juan Davila on Unsplash

We all live on the edge to some degree.  There is always some threat, something that could take us ‘over the edge’, and into some kind of difficulty or suffering.  We can’t stop that happening – it’s part of the human condition.  Those who are anxious know this only too well.  There is always a statistical chance of death, or of poverty, or of loss of freedom, or of ill health.


What we can do, is make ourselves some temporary safe places.  From time to time, I will check with a counselling client that they have a good support system in place.  The kinds of thing we focus on, just to make sure things are reasonably safe, form into this kind of checklist:

  1. FRIENDS – Do you have a good friend or friends with whom you can check in on a regular basis, in a supportive and non-judgemental way?
  2. ROUTINES – Do you have a daily routine that supports you, and gives you a steady structure through difficult times?
  3. MEALS – Are you managing to give yourself good nutrition on a regular basis, at regular mealtimes?
  4. REST – Are you protecting your rest and sleep time, giving yourself the best chance of recovery?
  5. ACTIVITY – Are you also making sure you have some time in focused activity?
  6. EXERCISE – Are you reminding your body that it can move freely, and taking it through its paces?
The function of these ‘safe places’ is to give your mind a rest from a sense of threat.  Anxiety thrives on lack of friends, lack of routine, lack of mealtimes, lack of rest, lack of activity, and lack of exercise.  In fact, it’s pretty much a symptom list for anxiety, as well as being a list of the things that can cause anxiety.
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So, if you find yourself living on the edge at the moment, run through that checklist.  See whether there is anything you’ve forgotten to do to protect yourself against a sense of threat.  If you attend to friends, routines, meals, rests, activities, and exercise, you give yourself the best chance of recovery.  You can’t guarantee health, but you can create the conditions where peace of mind is easier to find.