When the human brain allows fear to be in control, it goes instinctively to survival mode. As a result, the body creates a fight-or-flight response, which can lead to a mental health crisis.

Mother comforts crying child

Did you know there are tangible ways to take accountability in improving your daily functioning? There’s a term I love called “Felt Safety.” This simply means psychologically feeling safe vs. physically being safe. And yes, there’s a difference.

How many of you find yourselves doing dishes at the end of a long day at work? Well, what happens when the dishwashing bubbles disappear? Do you:

  1. stop everything and add more detergent—no bubbles must mean no longer cleaning effectively, or
  2. continue since the detergent will clean the dishes regardless of the presence of bubbles?

This may seem like a silly visual, but THIS is felt safety. Our brain logically knows the bubbles themselves aren’t the only thing cleaning the dishes. But we feel a lot more comfortable when we physically see those bubbles because they reinforce that the detergent is in the water.

So, what does this have to do with mental health?

As humans, we need to feel safe to function at our optimal levels.

When the human brain allows fear to be in control, it goes instinctively to survival mode. As a result, the body creates a fight-or-flight response, which can lead to a mental health crisis.

Here are some easy ways to create felt safety in your daily life:

  • Create consistency and routine, so your brain is fully prepared with what to expect next.
  • Less is more. Keep things simple and concrete.
  • Give choices and allow control when possible.
  • Name it to tame it. Speak your thoughts and feelings out loud, giving yourself validation to feel what you feel in the moment. This too shall pass.

And lastly….

  • Explore your curiosities. Allow your brain to connect all the pieces together.

Allowing yourself to not only be safe but feel safe calms and disarms the primitive part of the brain responsible for this survival reaction. By feeling safe, the human brain can connect the experience of safety to trust and attachment. And that right there is the awesome science behind felt safety.

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The Importance of Felt Safety
Sarah Michaels, RN, CPBS

Authored By

Sarah Michaels, RN, CPBS

VP of Kinetiq Health
Meet Sarah