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Creating an Environment of Safety & Healing in Your Home

The connection between the home, safety, and healing.

Healing Begins By Restoring Safety

Healing our body, mind, and spirit starts by restoring a sense of safety. When we do not feel safe in our body and in our external environment, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) becomes frequently activated increasing our risk of chronic health issues. The SNS, one of two divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), is responsible for activating an involuntary stress response system in the body which provides a burst of energy to respond to dangerous or stressful situations. Once activated, our SNS increases our heartbeat and blood pressure, pumps adrenaline into our bloodstream, and releases cortisol (stress hormone) into our bloodstream. If we are in a persistent state of feeling unsafe, our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which functions to calm the body and promote rest, will become under active and unable to help our body recover from stress. Thus, leaving our body in a constant sate of threat and unable to feel safe.

Creating and Restoring Safety at Home

A home is much more than just a physical space, it is a powerful tool for healing and recovery. Notice that I used the term "tool." This is because I am not promoting a home as a cure or solution to psychological healing. Think of your home as a support system that helps calm you, brings you joy, and empowers you to become resilient. In order for your home to become a support system for your mental health, it needs to feel and be safe for you. So, how does one make their home feel safe? By creating an environment in your home that aligns with your mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness needs. All of these dimensions of wellness are interconnected and influence one another. Therefore, it is important to consider how your home can aid in supporting each of these areas in your life.

A Space to Stabilize the Nervous System

Experiencing trauma can play a role in perceiving the world as a dangerous and threatening place, which often contributes to experiencing frequent dysregulation of one's nervous system. At times, it may be challenging to identify people and places that feel safe. Even factors in a home environment can either trigger intense emotional pain or be instrumental in one's healing journey. One way to begin moving forward to regaining and reclaiming one's sense of safety is to find a place where you feel secure that you can build on. This place doesn't have to be an entire house or apartment, it can also be a corner or a room in your home where you feel the most comfortable in. Once you have identified this space in your home where you will begin rebuilding your sense of safety, it is important to be intentional about the physical, social, and emotional elements you incorporate within that space. In particular, being intentional about the furniture you want to incorporate, the layout of the space, how you want the space to make you feel, and the types of interactions and connections you want to experience in this space is what will contribute to helping create an calm and comfortable setting to rebalance one's nervous system.

A Therapeutic Home Environment

Using your home as a tool to improve your sense of safety promotes an environment for healing. Creating an intentional and therapeutic home environment helps regain our sense of safety which minimizes the constant state of alarm in which our nervous system once remained. The elements that you surround yourself with in your home helps encourage a transformative process of restoring balance and calm in one's nervous system which aids in restoring your sense of safety.

-Marialejandra Gutierrez


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