EXERCISE Calming the threat system: Creating a safe place

A safe place is somewhere that you create using your mind and imagination.

It is a place that you can go anytime, wherever you are. For some people, it is a place that they remember from their past as being particularly safe and calm.

For others, they cannot easily remember a time like this from their past and so they work on creating one for themselves now. Either way, the same process applies. You can have more than one safe place and it can change over time as you wish. It is your creation and your own personal ideal.

It is useful for your safe place to have certain qualities though: it needs to be a place you feel calm, not judged, warm, free and above all safe.


How to create a safe place:

  1. If you feel comfortable enough, close your eyes and take a deep breath in and count to three. Then breathe out slowly to the count of five. Do this several times. As before, spend some time slowing down and controlling your breathing until you reach a calm and soothing rhythm. As you breathe in, imagine you are breathing in a sense of safeness and relaxation. As you breathe out, imagine you are breathing out all of the tension in your body.

  2. Begin to imagine a place where you feel calm – where are you?

  3. Focus on what you can see, take a minute to look all around you in your mind. You may perhaps even turn around to see what’s behind. Concentrate on any objects that you can see, the colors around you and areas of lightness and darkness.

  4. Focus on what you can hear, take your time to notice the noises, even the subtle ones. What noises can you hear close by? What noises can you hear in the distance?

  5. Focus on what you can smell. Again, take a minute to really notice the smells around you.

  6. What can you feel? Is it hot or cold? Are there textures under your feet?

  7. Focus on any taste in the image and notice this for a minute or two.

  8. Now focus on how you feel in your body, feelings of calm and safety in this image. Focus on the release of tension. Where do you feel this feeling in your body?

  9. Keep imagining your safe place in as much detail as possible and revisit that feeling of calm and safeness over and over, noticing where you feel it in your body.

  10. Is there a word that might remind you of your safe place? If so, what is it? If you have a word, repeat it in your mind over and over as you keep your safe place in your mind.

  11. When you are ready, take some deep breaths in again and slowly open your eyes, trying to hold onto that calm feeling.

Remember, you can come back to it whenever you want to. The easiest way to do this is to start by slowing down and controlling your body and to repeat the word that you picked that reminded you of your safe place. In doing so, it will be easier to return to your safe place whenever you would like.

Safe place:

Write a description of your safe place in as much detail as you can. Remember to include information from all your senses. What word have you chosen to remind you of your safe place?