How to Visit Somewhere Calming (Almost Instantly)

by | Gay Mental Health

As I write this at the end of 2020, I can’t help but think how challenging this year has been (to put it mildly).

One thing that I’m hearing from a lot of gay men is that they’re feeling trapped due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The usual ways to get out of the house, relax, and connect with other people just aren’t as available to many people.

However, there’s still a way you can visit a place that you find calm, soothing, and peaceful.

And given how stressful things may feel right now, an escape to somewhere calm might sound pretty great.

When I’m using trauma processing methods like EMDR with clients, we first establish some grounding strategies they can use as anchors to feel calmer during the process.

One of these exercises is called calm place.

If you’d like to get some more calm in your day, I’ll run you through a modified version of this exercise below:


1️⃣ Get something to write with.

2️⃣ Start writing about a place from your adult life where you’ve felt comfortable, calm, and secure. It might be a place in nature, in your home, or even in your imagination.

3️⃣ As you think about that place, what do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Sense in your body? Focus on all these different senses and write down what you come up with.

4️⃣ Now read this description back to yourself, either in your head or aloud. Notice what you feel after reading this description and write down any additional details you’re noticing.

5️⃣ Bring up the image of the place by reading the description to yourself again. Concentrate on where you feel the pleasant sensations in your body and allow yourself to enjoy them. If you notice any new sensations or details, add these to the written description.

6️⃣ Think of a cue word, phrase, or symbol that represents your calm place, and write this down. Think of that word and notice any positive feelings that come up. Again, add any new sensations or details to your description.

7️⃣ Now, say your cue word to yourself, and imagine your calm place. Add any new details to your description.

8️⃣ Let’s practice. Think of a minor annoyance and how it feels. Now pause. Take a deep breath. Say your cue word to yourself and begin imagining your calm place. Notice any shifts in your body. Repeat this step with another minor annoyance to practice more.

Additional tips:

Practice this a few times a day if you can. Simply say the cue word to yourself and start imagining your calm place.

If you find it difficult at first, that’s okay. This exercise is like any skill: the more you practice, the better you’ll get over time.

You can even keep the description of the calm place on your phone so that you can also read it while you’re practicing.

With practice, when you say your cue word to yourself, you’ll be able to drop into the pleasant feelings associated with your calm place more instantaneously.

Hopefully this exercise will help you find some calm. If it does, let me know! 🙂