Emotional Safety Plan
How many times do you recall being encouraged to create an emotional safety plan, or even an emotional selfcare plan? Society, thus you and I, tend to focus on our physical safety and wellbeing more so than our emotional state of being. Unless of course our emotional state of being begins to adversely affect many parts of our lives or the lives of those around us. Things like feeling depressed, worthless and hopeless. Or feeling overwhelmed with uncontrollable worry and fear. We push those around us away sometimes deliberately and sometimes not. Which in turn only increases our negative internal dialog of self-defeating thoughts. To live in this state is exhausting at best.
What if I told you there is a better way, a way that requires a certain level of work on your part, but can decrease the intensity of those feelings and increase your quality of life? Would you be interested and willing to at least try? It is important to focus on three separate areas, daily living, additional life stressors, and the adjustment phase.
This area of emotional safety and wellbeing focuses on daily life with its normal stressors. This is the foundation of the emotional safety plan. It is important to develop and practice daily self-care. Basically, you need to be doing something good for yourself every day. This looks different for each person and should be tailored to your needs and desires. There are many different focal points of self-care but for this article we are going to focus on emotional self-care. To begin, ask yourself these questions; What do you like, in general, broadly and specifically? What are you interested in? What gives you great energy, or makes you feel excited? What helps you feel calm, centered and peaceful? What are you grateful for today? As you ask yourself these questions think in terms of activities that might bring an increased sense of happiness, and overall emotional wellbeing. Making sure to include things that involve others and things that can be done in solitude that will cause internal reflection, like journaling, drawling and crafting, as examples. It is important to have a mixture of external and internal sources of emotional self-care that way we find our personal balance and increase emotional stabilization. Remembering that this will look different for each person.
Additional life stressors
This section will focus on life’s curve balls, if you will. Those additional stressors that present themselves often without our permission, like monetary loss or need, physical illness, extra. Usually the first thing to go in these situation is our selfcare. However, decreasing, or disengaging from your self-care plan increases the likability of emotional disequilibrium. I often tell people, self-included; the level of selfcare must match or exceed that which we give out, or that which is required for our daily living. The most important thing for us to do in these situations is to increase our self-care. This feels counterproductive at first. You might not feel like you have the time to take care of yourself but this is preciously the time to do so. Things like increasing your interactions with your social support system. Call a friend to vent. Go to a social function or outing. Volunteer at your local church or community service agency. Helping others often increases our sense of belonging and accomplishment and helps get us out of our thoughts. Find ways to express yourself, for some this will be talking to friends, for others it will be a more private endeavor like journaling. Regardless of how, you need to express yourself. Emotions that get stuck in the body manifest not only in additional emotional issues but in physical health related issues as well. Increasing movement is another wonderful way to discharge emotional energy. Things like dancing, exercising, running, walking, and or boxing. In other words, when an additional stressor is introduced it will require more of your emotional resources, therefore you will need to increase your selfcare, thus creating a balance.
At this point the additional life stressors have either resolved themselves completely and / or have altered life as we knew it and we must adjust accordingly. This is a time of self-reflection, radical acceptance, and reevaluation. First, we must take inventory of the self, both internally and externally. Then determine how or what has changed. This must be done in a nonjudgmental way, which is where the radical acceptance part comes in. It is imperative to radically accept the change. This does not mean you agree with the outcomes, or that you do not work towards a goal. It is simply saying, it is what it is, I will change what I can and move forward. Then go back to your selfcare plan, is there a need to change anything? Do you need to add ways to care for yourself, or take things away that are no longer possible or fulfilling? As you begin to integrate these practices into your life, give yourself grace. Stay curious about yourself and the process. You are on your way to creating an emotional safety plan.