SAFE-PLACE VISUALIZATION

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Safe-place visualization is a powerful stress-reduction technique. Using it, you can soothe yourself by imagining a peaceful, safe place where you can relax.

The truth is, your brain and body often can’t tell the difference between what’s really happening to you and what you’re just imagining. So if you can successfully create a peaceful, relaxing scene in your thoughts, your body will often respond to those soothing ideas.

 Make sure you conduct this exercise in a quiet room where you’ll be free from distractions.

Turn off your phone and television. Tell the people in your home, if there are any, that you can’t be disturbed for the next twenty minutes. Allow yourself the time and the freedom to relax. You deserve it.

Read the following directions before you begin. If you feel comfortable remembering them, close your eyes and begin the visualization exercise. Or, if you would prefer, use an  audio- recording  device to record the directions for yourself.

Read them aloud using a slow, soothing voice. Then close your eyes and listen to the guided visualization you created.

Before you begin the exercise, think of a real or imaginary place that makes you feel safe and relaxed. It can be a real place that you’ve visited in the past, such as the beach, a park, a field, a church/temple, your room, and so on. Or it can be a place that you’ve completely made up, such as a white cloud floating in the sky, a medieval castle, or the surface of the moon. It can be anywhere. If you have trouble thinking of a place, think of a color that makes you feel relaxed, such as pink or baby blue. Just do your best. In the exercise, you’ll be guided through exploring this place in more detail. But before you begin, make sure you already have a place in mind, and remember—thinking of it should make you feel safe and relaxed. Complete the following sentences about your safe place before beginning the visualization:

 

 My safe place is ____________________________________________________

 My safe place makes me feel __________________________________________

Instructions

To begin, sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably, either on the arms of the chair or in your lap.

Close your eyes.

Take a slow, long breath in through your nose.

Feel your belly expand like a balloon as you breathe in.

Hold it for five seconds: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Then release it slowly through your mouth.

Feel your belly collapse like a balloon losing its air.

Again, take a slow, long breath in through your nose and feel your stomach expand.

Hold it for five seconds: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Then exhale slowly through your mouth.

One more time: take a slow, long breath in through your nose and feel your stomach expand.

Hold it for five seconds: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Then exhale slowly through your mouth.

Now begin to take slow, long breaths without holding them, and continue to breathe smoothly for the rest of this exercise.

Now, with your eyes closed, imagine that you enter your safe place using all of your senses to ground yourself in the scene.

First, look around using your imaginary sense of sight.

What does this place look like?

Is it daytime or nighttime?

Is it sunny or cloudy?

Notice the details.

Are you alone or are there other people or animals?

What are they doing?

If you’re outside, look up and notice the sky.

Look out at the horizon.

If you’re inside, notice what the walls and the furniture look like.

Is the room light or dark?

Choose something soothing to look at.

Then continue looking for a few seconds using your imaginary sense of sight.

Next, use your imaginary sense of hearing.

What do you hear?

Do you hear other people or animals?

Do you hear music?

Do you hear the wind or the ocean?

Choose something soothing to hear.

Then listen for a few seconds using your imaginary sense of hearing.

Then use your imaginary sense of smell.

If you’re inside, what does it smell like?

Does it smell fresh?

Do you have a fire burning that you can smell?

Or, if you’re outside, can you smell the air, the grass, the ocean, or the flowers?

Choose to smell something soothing in your scene.

Then take a few seconds to use your imaginary sense of smell.

Next, notice if you can feel anything with your imaginary sense of touch.

What are you sitting or standing on in your scene?

Can you feel the wind?

Can you feel something you’re touching in the scene?

Choose to touch something soothing in your scene.

Then take a few seconds to use your imaginary sense of touch.

Last, use your imaginary sense of taste.

Are you eating or drinking anything in this scene?

Choose something soothing to taste.

Then take a few seconds to use your imaginary sense of taste.

Now take a few more seconds to explore your safe place using all of your imaginary senses. Recognize how safe and relaxed you feel here.

Remember that you can come back to this place in your imagination whenever you need to feel safe and relaxed. You can also come back whenever you’re feeling sad, angry, restless, or in pain.

Look around one last time to remember what it looks like.

Now keep your eyes closed and return your focus to your breathing.

Again, take some slow, long breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Then, when you feel ready, open your eyes and return your focus to the room.

Learn more:

Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. DISTRESS TOLERANCE SKILLS
  2. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
  3. DISTRACT YOURSELF FROM SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS
  4. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH PLEASURABLE ACTIVITIES
  5. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY PAYING ATTENTION TO SOMEONE ELSE
  6. DISTRACT YOUR THOUGHTS
  7. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY LEAVING
  8. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH TASKS AND CHORES
  9. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY COUNTING
  10. CREATE YOUR DISTRACTION PLAN
  11. RELAX AND SOOTHE YOURSELF
  12. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Smell
  13. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Touch
  14. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Taste
  15. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Hearing
  16. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Vision
  17. Self-Soothing – CREATE A RELAXATION PLAN

Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills: Improve the Moment
  2. SAFE-PLACE VISUALIZATION
  3. CUE-CONTROLLED RELAXATION
  4. REDISCOVER YOUR VALUES
  5. SELF-ENCOURAGING COPING THOUGHTS
  6. TAKE A TIME-OUT
  7. LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
  8. IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHER POWER
  9. ADVANCED RADICAL ACCEPTANCE