How Are You Sleeping?

How are you sleeping? If you find yourself feeling anxious and having a harder time sleeping, excess fear may be a factor. When our bodies are in a high-alert stress state, sleep is often disrupted. This is known as hypervigilance which is a common trauma- related response.

While safe spaces were created to help marginalized individuals feel physically and emotionally safe, the purposes of a safe space is not limited to these two areas. In trauma work, creating a sense of safety and stability is important to help one feel grounded. One way to do this is through visualization and mindful meditation. One of my favorite images used in visualizations is the image of a tree. The tree can be found in many different nature scenes and is a good visual to help feel fully present, alive, and connected to the earth.

Visualize your feet on the ground, feeling the contact your bare feet make with the surface as you are firmly “rooted” with your feet on the floor. Your body is strong like a tree trunk, able to withstand the weather—rain, snow, wind. Your branches gently sway with the wind. The leaves change along the seasons. You change. During times of intense storms, a few branches may break but your roots run deep and are able to withstand the storm. Your tree is able to receive what it needs—nutrients from the ground, water, sun. You are strong. During times when resources are scare, your tree survives. You are a survivor. Not only does your tree survive, but it is also able to thrive. Its roots grow deep, the trunk matures, and the branches reach high towards the sky. You radiate with positive energy.

A mindfulness meditation designed to use at night that I enjoy is called the Safe/ Calm Space Guided Imagery. This exercise incorporates the concepts of a safe space and visualization as part of mindful meditation. It helps you visualize your personal safe place that you can return to whenever you need to. Nature scenes can be incredibly powerful with their vivid imagery. The possibilities are endless—only limited by your imagination. These can be tailored based on what language and images are meaningful to you.

The Safe/ Calm Space Guided Imagery starts off by asking you to get into a comfortable position where you can relax. I like to do this while lying in bed. Start off by noticing your breathing—taking deep belly breaths in and out. Scan your body for any areas of tension. Relax and allow your mind to visualize your safe space. Incorporate the five senses to notice what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Allow yourself to be fully present and immersed in your safe space. It is a place that you can access when feeling afraid, uncomfortable, or at unrest as you regulate and calm your body through deep breathing.

For the full, detailed Safe/ Calm Space Guided Imagery Script, click here

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC  

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