Being and feeling safe from physical or emotional harm is an important human need. This includes in our own homes, neighborhoods and relationships, as well as feeling safe from the government, discrimination, violence and crime. It also means feeling safe and secure in our ability to meet and obtain our basic needs. When we are not feeling safe, our survival instincts kick in. And when survival instincts are engaged for long periods of time, it can cause long-term physical, mental, emotional and spiritual damage.
Signs of Optimal Health & Wellness
Indicators of thriving include:
Feeling safe in one’s own home
Feeling safe in one’s own neighborhood
A general sense of feeling safe from violence and crime
Ability to walk down the street and participate in the community without fear of violence, government retribution or discrimination
Confidence in being able to obtain employment and meet basic needs
Ability to feel hope, and a sense of peace and calmness
Ability to focus on higher pursuits
Overall thriving in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health
Ability to address issues or threats with positive action
Warning signs include:
High levels of stress, anxiety or depression
Feeling afraid, insecure or unsafe
Increased feelings of helplessness or despair
High levels of aggression towards others
Emotional or physical abuse is present at home or in relationships
Experiencing or awareness of increased neighborhood or community violence and crimes without any action to correct it in positive ways
Experiencing acts of discrimination or violence, or awareness of discrimination and violence against others who are similar to you in some way without any action to correct it in positive ways
Fear of government or government agents (i.e. police or politicians) without any action to correct it in positive ways
Low self-confidence, fear of the future, an inability to see past current situation
Increase in addictions
Willingness to engage in criminal activities
Engagement in oppression of self or others
Constant pessimism, inability to perform daily routines
No longer able to dream, make goals, or be creative
Feeling safe in all areas of our lives is important to maintaining overall physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing. Ask yourself: Do I feel safe at home? Do I feel safe in my relationships? Do I feel safe in my neighborhood? Do I feel safe from the government? Do I feel safe and secure at work? Do I feel confident in my ability to move about freely and secure my own basic needs? If any of these answers are no, it might be cause for action.
Hope is always the antidote to fear and feeling and unsafe. Counteracting fear with faith and hope can help to address immediate racing thoughts. In some cases, self and community affirmation can also be helpful. Thinking about past situations when you felt safe, and recognizing who or what made you feel safe can help you decide on paths forward. And surrounding yourself with people and situations where you feel wanted, needed and valued can restore a sense of safety and familiarity necessary to cope and take action.
Positive stimulations such as prayer, meditation and counseling can also help you take decisive action to overcome fear, or to actively address immediate issues because you have faith in a positive outcome.
Personal hygiene and meeting the immediate needs of air, water, nutrition and activity can help to guide mental and emotional clarity
Engage in spiritual practices
Active engagement in positively addressing issues
Seek help when needed
In some cases, it’s important to take action because feelings of unsafety are rooted in real and actual threats to health, safety and wellbeing. In addition, putting nervous or fear-based energy towards a positive outcome can alleviate feelings of helplessness or despair.