3 months ago · Leah Fogt · 0 comments
When scary things happen, like the terrible shooting in Dayton last night, it’s good to make an effort to restore feelings of safety as much as possible. That’s one of the reasons the Dayton Convention Center has been converted to a Family Resource Center to help people reunite with loved ones and get and feel safe again.
I was not directly affected by the shooting, but someone very dear to us was there and played an important part in helping the victims of the shooting. The Oregon District has been a place I’ve enjoyed good food and friendship. This horrific shooting rocked my sense of safety in very new and real ways, and I am brokenhearted for the city I call home.
Trying to find some reassurance and calm again, I went to two places today that reliably help me settle down: my church and the farmer’s market. The opportunity to cry, pray, sing, and receive some comforting words from our associate pastor did wonders for me, but I still needed more. So this afternoon I went to a farmer’s market near our home. It smelled of sweet melons that were warm from the sun. I took my time looking and smelling and picking. I chatted with the kind woman working there. Soon I felt a little more relief.
If any of you are feeling unsettled, frightened, or unsafe after the news of the shootings that have occurred in El Paso and Dayton, or certainly if you were directly affected by these incidents, I encourage you to take some steps to help reassure you body and your mind of your current safety. We cannot guarantee safety everywhere 100% of the time, but we can seek out moments of calm and safety when we need them.
One tool that I teach many of my clients to help find some calm when life feels chaotic or scary is a resource called “The Calm Space.” It’s a very simple visualization technique that can help settle the body and the mind, releasing tension, quieting racing thoughts, and slowing down the activated central nervous system. It’s a fairly simple process.
- To start with, find a physical space where you can sit or lie still with minimal distractions. You might have to tell people around you to not bother you for a few minutes.
- Get in a comfortable posture in which your body is supported, like lying down on your back or sitting in a comfortable chair.
- Start to deepen your breathing, making sure you take full breaths that cause your belly to expand, as opposed to a shallow breath that makes your shoulders move a lot.
- Begin to picture in your mind a place where you feel calm and safe. It can be made up or real. It could be the beach, a field of sunflowers, a cabin by the lake, or even a space in your own home.
- Once you have the place in your mind, bring up the sensations that you enjoy in that place: the things you see (colors, shapes, movement), sounds (distinct sounds or ambient noise), smells, tastes, and things you can feel through the sense of touch (temperature, texture, objects to hold). Take your time to enjoy these pleasant sensations and savor them.
- If you like, pick one specific detail to focus on for a new moments – for me right now it’s the smell of the sugar cube melons at the farmer’s market!
- When you’re done enjoying your calm space, slowly and gently start to shift your attention back to the present moment, maybe by noticing the breath or the sensations in the space where you are sitting/lying.
- Notice how your mind and body feel different now.
The Calm Space resource is a great way to help relax a tense body and quiet an overactive mind. It’s best to use this when you intellectually know you are safe, but you body and emotions cause you to feel unsafe. Do not use this resource if you are currently in a dangerous environment or one that requires alertness like while driving a car.
Resources and coping skills like this can help you manage between counseling sessions are while you are working on setting up counseling services, but they do not replace psychotherapy. If you are in need of crisis services or ongoing counseling help is available. If you have medical insurance, your insurance card will have a phone number on the back that you can call to find a counselor. You could also try doing a provider search on your insurance company’s website. Another resource for those with and without insurance in your county’s mental health board. A simple google search will likely help you find a phone number for them. You may also call my office at 513-217-5221. If I cannot help you myself, I will help you find someone who can!