Do You Need A Safety Plan?

Do You Need A Safety Plan?

BY Michelle McQuaid

Are you feeling nervous about returning to your workplace premise?  Whether you’re heading back to a hybrid model or will be onsite fulltime, it’s not only normal but very healthy to be feeling uncertain about how this transition will work and what your future holds.

“People aren’t machines on which a reset button can just be pressed,” explained Dr. Sandra Bloom, a trauma informed psychiatrist and Associate Professor at the Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University, when I interviewed her recently.  “When we experience the kind of trauma created by the uncertainty and unpredictably of the last few years, we need to take into account our emotional and relational wellbeing as we navigate the transitions ahead.” 

But how can we pull this off?

Sandra suggests that creating a simple safety plan for yourself and encouraging others in your team to do the same is a great first step.  After all, studies have found that the safer we feel, the more likely we are to talk openly and honestly with each other, to think creatively and collaboratively about ways to solve new challenges, and to care for our wellbeing as we navigate our strange new ways of working.

To create a safety plan, Sandra suggests:

  • Understanding your signals – What are the signals your body gives you when you’re about to lose control? Does your breath quicken? Does your heart start beating faster? Do your hands sweat?
  • Identifying your triggers – If you’re honest with yourself, what are the areas where you are most in danger of losing control? What are the trigger points – things that make you extremely angry or upset? Try to name at least four – knowing that we all have them!
  • Creating a detour – List at least five things you can do when you’re feeling unsafe that can help you to feel safer. Try to include actions you can take without a lot of thought and in most situations e.g. a widget or fidget toy, play with a stress ball, or evoke a sound or sense of smell. Finding a physical action is great, like breathing or massaging hands. Keep this list nearby as a handy reminder.
  • Sharing your safety plan – Sharing amongst your team is a great way to promote safety and can help others identify when you are in a triggered state and where you might need a bit of space or support. Let people know how they can help you if they notice that your emotions are becoming unmanageable.

As we try to navigate new ways of working together, what is the safety plan that will help you and others?

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