Dr. Anna Charbonneau

Therapy for people living with stress, depression, and medical conditions

Feeling Overwhelmed? Four Steps to Create Your Own Oasis in the Storm

by Dr. Anna Charbonneau | Tags: emotion coping, stress

If you're in the US right now, there is a good chance you're dealing with a whirlwind of emotions in yourself and the people around you. If you are watching the news, looking at social media, or simply talking to the people around you, it's easy to see that emotions are running at an all time high.

In seriously stressful times, it's more important than ever to care for your own emotional health. One simple way to get a break from stress is to create a safe space for yourself–and then make sure to visit it a few minutes each day.

How can you create a safe space? It's not that hard. Let's start with thinking of your 5 senses: sound, sight, touch, temperature, and taste. A safe space does not have to be in a specific place. You can create an oasis that you can access anywhere.

Step 1 (Sound): Find soothing sounds

Take a break from your usual environment and find a way to access sounds that are soothing to you. Do you like nature sounds like the ocean, flowing water, the sound of rain on a roof? There are apps that can deliver that, Calm for example, has a wide variety of scenes including meadow, rain, and beach scenes.

If you like music, Spotify is an app you can use on your phone or computer that also has different channels (although if you use the free version, you can expect two minutes of advertisements every ten minutes or so).

Keep a pair of headphones with you and access these sounds anywhere.

Step 2 (Sight): Find something beautiful to watch

If you are out and about, find something calming to look at. Maybe there is a flower, a painting, or some other scene where you can let your eyes rest. You can also keep a small object with you, a small statue, stone, picture, flower–anything that you find calming to let your eyes rest. If you're making a safe space in your home, you could also have a small candle to light.

Step 3 (Touch & Temperature): Get comfortable

If you're creating a safe space in your home, you could set aside a specific corner and set a pillow, blanket, sweater, or anything else you need to bring comfort to your physical body. If you're out and about, carry a sweater, scarf, or some other object that brings you comfort.

When you want to access your safe space, take out these things to bring yourself comfort.

Step 4 (Taste): Find something soothing

This is going to vary, but it will be easier to access your safe space if you're well fed and hydrated. You might decide to make a short ritual, or signal to yourself, to help you create and rest in your safe space that could include making hot tea or another soothing drink.

If you're just creating a safe space, try to avoid wine or other alcohol. Stick to drinks like lemon water, tea, or other drinks without alcohol or added sugar–remember you're trying to improve your health not give your body extra work.

Pull Your Safe Space Together

To create your safe space, an oasis from the storm, simply go through your five senses. Once you have your soothing sound, something calming to look at, something comfortable to rest in, and something warm or cool to drink, then you can begin.

Start with three deep breathes. (Here is an article on how breathing properly can help). Then you can focus on each sense in turn. Focus your mind on each of your senses for a few moments. Give yourself permission to take a break from any intense emotions, worries, or fears. Allow yourself to rest in this moment.

Build A Visit To Your Safe Space Into Your Daily Routine

Taking even three minutes in your safe space can give you a chance to breathe. Give yourself permission to try it. If you find it helps you, then make an effort build a visit to your safe space into each day.

Want to read more articles on handling stress? Click here for all articles on surfing through strong emotions.