Safety Planning: A Way to Plan for Change

Safety Planning

As the new year begins many people try to create a new year’s resolutions in order to feel better. A helpful way to stick to a new year’s resolution is by safety planning. A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that can be used to avoid and plan for risky situations, both physically and emotionally. Safety planning can be used in multiple situations that people find difficult. This can be anything from a new year’s resolution, parties, self-harm behaviors, public speaking, and more. But how do you create a safety plan?

Step 1: Describe What You Are Planning For
You need to be able to identify why a safety plan is needed and what you are planning against.

Step 2: Identify Your Warning Signs
Create a list of different warning signs that help you identify a problem. These warning signs can be thoughts, images, behaviors, or moods. For example, if you are planning on losing weight one warning sign you may experience are thoughts about food that go against your diet.

Step 3: Identify Your Internal Coping Strategies
Create a list of relaxation techniques and activates that can be tools you use to take your mind off your problems. Some examples are going for a walk, taking a bath, deep breathing, prayer, and practicing your hobbies.

Step 3: Identify Your External Coping Strategies
Create a list of people and social activities that you can do that will distract you. This list is different from the internal coping strategies as the external strategies utilizes the assistance of others while internal strategies you do by yourself.

Step 4: Identify People That Can Help
Sometimes we are unable to reach our goals by ourselves. Creating a list of family and friends that are great resources and supporters of your success. In addition, having information of professionals you can contact if you need it.

Step 5: Making the Environment Safe
If you are trying to eat healthier, having a house full of unhealthy food does not match your goal. Therefore, making changes on the outside can lead to more success when wanting to make changes on the inside.

Finally, Step 6: Utilize Your Plan
After you have your plan written, practice using it if you find yourself in difficult situations. If you notice some aspects of your plan do not work, change them in order to meet your personal needs. Remember, you made this plan to help you succeed so you have the power to change it if you think it is not.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Keli Hinkemeyer earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. Cloud State University, MN after completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Dependency and Community Psychology from St. Cloud State University, MN. She has a history of working with individuals who have spent time in the criminal justice system and are on parole. She has worked with individuals who have had an alcohol, substance, and behavioral addiction. 

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